Monday, July 13, 2009

Playing... for Money

With the pending bloom of Hollywood East, we have recently seen and heard of a plethora of movies being filmed in the Boston area, and the entire state seems to be aflutter. Literally.

Last Friday, my friend and I attended a casting call for a Ben Affleck movie being shot in the area called My Town, or The Town, or Our Town (okay, not that last one.) In some ways, this was not your typical cattle call, because they specifically asked for people with a Boston accent, and even asked each attendee to read a line to see if we had what it took. Of course, what I took were classes to try and get rid of my Boston accent, so alas, my size card was not adorned with the "BA" initials. Which I learned did not stand for "Bad Actor" or Mr. T's character from the A-Team. It stood for "Boston Accent." So, I probably won't get my line, but I'm not sure if I'm terribly disappointed in that fact. I'd rather not sound like Ted Kennedy all the time than tell people, "Hey, I once had a line in a movie and sounded like a dope."

The thing is that most of the people there would love to have that line. And not because it was a little more money and a better meal than the extras. They are all looking for their big break, and I guess they think that one line in one movie will catapult them to stardom. And of course! I mean, think of the many interviews with famous actors that you've read that featured an answer like, "Yeah, I was hanging out in Extras Holding when a PA came up to me and said, 'You! You're my star!' and the rest is history." I know there's resume-building and all that, but the desperation in some of these people's faces is amusing, if it weren't so sad.

Despite my history as Dursin the Firestarter, Dr. Demento and Ookla from the planet Zonk in my early filmmaking career, I have never fancied myself an actor. In fact, I think I kind of stink. Maybe I could be passable in a comedy, but probably only the kind I'm used to, where there wasn't actual dialogue to memorize and I got to just say whatever the Hell I wanted. I'm not really one for "the process" of putting yourself in the character. In reality, it's just playing, much the same way my friends and I would play in the yard when we were kids, and I insisted on being Spider-Man or I would go home crying.

The actors I've met (which isn't a lot, I admit) are a rather pretentious lot, considering they are doing for money what I did as a kid for my Saturday afternoons. This is coming from someone who over-thinks everything in the world, but when they handed me "copy" at the door (a crumpled up piece of paper with 4 lines of dialogue on it, 2 for men and 2 for women), I was quite shocked, and almost refused. Still, I filled out the size card and got in line, while my friend poured over the copy, which was fine for him, because he wants to be an actor. I was just there for the money. The very effeminate casting director asked me how I was and which line I was going to read, and I read the shorter one. Something about going around back to the cargo bay (or cah-go bay), and we hit him right there. I don't remember because I don't care. To the King of Over-Thinking, I feel that was one I could let slide. Acting may be a difficult job, but for that one line... Well, I think I gave it its due attention.

Maybe it's because I spent time in L.A., or maybe because I've done the audition thing a couple times (Once, I was actually approached by a casting director in L.A. who was putting on a stage production of Jesus Christ Superstar and wanted me to play Christ, simply because I had a beard.), but I put acting up there with most other high-paying jobs. It would be nice work if I could get it, but I'm not going to go to any great lengths to learn the trade. In my mind, I'm already a character. Why would I need to play anyone else?

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