Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mirage or Oasis?

After an era of inactivity, a flurry of auditions (is four a flurry?) resulting in a job.

The job is with the Trailer Park Boys. They're shooting a 2nd feature film.

The original audition was a couple of weeks ago, fraught with its own drama; I had arrived with something extra and something missing. The missing bit was the first page of the audition script which was very vexing and leads me further down the path of believing I need to change agents. I had received two pages, but one seemed not to have anything to do with me or any character that I might read for. My inquiry to my agent about this suspicious second page went unanswered. I arrived for the audition and saw that the page I had learned was really the second page of two. Fortunately the auditions were running a little behind (they often are) and I had about ten minutes to memorize the lines from the first page. It gave me a different appreciation on how I wanted to play the character. In fact I changed my mind about three times before I went in and consequently suffered a significant crisis of confidence during my performance. I came out feeling not very good about my audition, not very good about my agent.

The extra I brought was an improv.

Remembering previous auditions and knowing how Mike C. likes to shoot his scenes, I thought about what kinds of things the character might say if we were told to improvise anything following the read-through. Sure enough, the two of us doing the audition were told we would have to get ourselves out of the scene and I used the two “improv” bits that I’d come up with.

Despite my own evaluation of how the audition went, I got a callback a few days later.

Turns out the script we read was a fake script. I had an inkling it might have been, since the title on the top of the pages I got read: “Trailer Park Boys Fake Scene”. For the callback I was told that there would be scripts available either early on the day or at the location for a cold read, but of course, no there weren’t. It was to be completely improvised.

I don’t consider improve a strength of mine. I generally am very reliant on the written word. Back some years ago as an extra on the set of “Blackfly”, Ron James was doing a scene were he was trying to make up a line that echoed the “My name is Joe” ads for Molson Canadian. Remember? “My name is Joe and I AM CANADIAN!” Well, Blackfy was set in the pre-Confederation days and Ron and the director and the other actor in the scene were trying to come up with the word that would substitute for “Canadian”. They didn’t get one so that particular bit wasn’t used. Later, I saw him outside and I told him, the word you were looking for was “Colonial”. My name is Blackfly, and I AM COLONIAL!” Ron says, “Why didn’t you say something?!?!?!” I told him truthfully because I’d just thought of it.

See, I’m funny but I’m not quick. That makes for good writing, but bad improv.

So I’m sitting in the conference room at the Lord Nelson Hotel in a suit and tie, having just come from another audition about an hour previous in another part of the city. I’m the second guy to arrive. The first guy to arrive won’t sit down. He paces. And paces. And paces some more. I’m feeling pretty relaxed and calm despite the looming requirement to improvise some scenes (in a suit and tie remember, for the Trailer Park Boys, remember) but all that pacing is starting to drive me bat shit. Two more actors arrive. One of them invites Pacing Man to sit down, but the guy declines. This is how he works, he tells us. Thankfully, he’s the first to be called in and I tell the other two guys how the stress level in the room suddenly has gone WAY down. “My God!” the guy says. “He just wouldn’t stop pacing!”

“Fucking actors,” I say and we laugh.

A couple of days later I get the call that I’d won one of the roles. Do I have to add “Improv specialist” to my acting résumé now?

The role is for a Brinks Truck driver. He’s dropped off his partner and surreptitiously detouring to the liquor store at the end of the day. Getting out of the truck, Julian runs up and breathless asks if he has a gun.

“Yes,” I said carefully, “but I’m off duty…”

I like to think this was the line that won me the role. It could have been that Mike remembers me from our Channel Ten days of pre-glory. Either way is okay with me.

As for the day of shooting, well, I’ve signed a confidentiality agreement, so you’re going to have to watch the movie to find out what went on. We were out in public, right in the core of downtown Halifax and had a lot of people around watching us. Many figured I was part of security for the shoot and approached to ask questions about what was going on. THEM I told because I hadn’t signed the agreement yet. Also, it was kind of all happening right there in front of them.

Would it be telling too much if I told you we were shooting guns?

It was pretty cool and a lot of fun. I thanked Mike at the end of the day. He let me know that there’s a shot that features me prominently. He doesn’t know that I’m very comfortable toiling away in obscurity. I’ll have to send him a link to the blog.

With a note of gratitude, of course.

(Posted much earlier than the date shows; re-posted to remove a link to a sex site. Sheesh.)

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