Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Traditional Cattle Call Goes Hi-Tech

A friend has forged a remarkable climb in television and movies from a start as an extra.  He has not only speaking roles but featured performance status to say nothing of a series of national TV ads which are worth big buck$.

In previous dispatches, he has berated the sometime necessity of getting up before God to drive to unlikely sites for auditions.  Having secured the role, it's sometimes necessary to work well into the night.  Those are, admittedly, drawbacks to "show biz" at the lower levels (no insult intended.  It's the Brad Pitts and Meryl Streeps of that world that get their own personalized trailer and over-the-top pampering.)   

I thought about this (the drawbacks) and wondered if one could audition by Skype?  So I wrote him and asked.  His reply -

"Absolutely!  I've done several auditions using Skype.  Also self taped, uploaded to YouTube, Vimeo, iCloud and others. 

"I have two computers with cameras in the monitor and another Sony camera.  If you have a script with two roles, you can record the voice for the other actor on it and play it back while doing your lines and record both on the other monitor/computer, then upload the whole thing into whatever format you want or that the casting director requests.

"Using Skype I did my part while the casting director read the other role and I guess they recorded it on their equipment.

"We were, by the way, doing a very grim thing, a movie about a Viet Nam refugee.  The movie never got made and I doubt it ever will.  Either way, I won't be in it."

There are still "cattle calls" - a mass invitation to "come'on down!" and try out.  Many a movie or book has started with little Betty Jean, from God Forgot, Kansas, being picked out of the herd and made a star. 

What could be worrisome is this:  actors  are, of necessity interested in themselves.  I am imagining with something of a frisson of horror that an actor's funeral might start with a brief recollection of the first cattle call and then on to every try-out tape he/she ever made.  Bring a sandwich.

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