Thursday, October 11, 2007

"If there's anything else you can do that will make you happy, then do that."

This was advice given by actress MF today to an auditioner who had said he was in a pre-med program. She told him that she had been acting since she was a child, and when she was in her teens and thinking about going into it as a profession, she had sought the council of an actor friend. That was what he had told her, because “It’s too hard to do, if there's something else you can do.”

This auditioner’s reading of a part had been only slightly more lively than the average high school book report.

“You are in school to be a doctor?” said actor JP. He, MF, and AZ are the judges for this touring casting reality show in which members of the general public audition for parts in a movie (key extra parts, or small supporting roles). This is a pilot for now, may become a real show later.

The auditioner nodded yes.

“Well, I’m not going to say what you think I’m going to say next,” said JP. I had heard the producers on our show saying that JP, MF, AZ have been, in previous cities on the tour, too nice. None of them have the grumpy, harsh critic persona like judges on some other reality shows.

JP told the student he needed a lot more experience in acting, but if he had the drive and was willing to take classes, then he shouldn’t let anything stop him. Then JP went ahead and, perhaps remembering recent coaching by a producer who wanted him to be tougher, said “Really, you should stick to medicine.”

When auditioners were out of the room, the judges talked amongst themselves about their personal lives. “You know, I’ve never been to a strip club,” said JP. MF turned her pristine head to him and said, “Well J, I’m really proud of you,” deadpan.

“Let’s go tonight,” said AZ.

JP talked about a relationship where the woman was a young sexy wild person, and the older male actor decided he needed to quit dealing with her. "The thing is, she wants a sugar daddy,” said JP.

“They all think we’re rich,” said MF.

MF really knows her stuff. Someone was asking who is the president of a radio conglomerate, and she knew. She knew references and speeches from famous movies, old movies, the good stuff, not recent kitsch. I didn't catch all of the story, but her current name she adopted from a character in an old movie who had risen up against adversity and fought for social justice.

One auditioner had written on his form that he does Karate.

"Can you show us a kata?" said MF.

The guy went through some motions, then stopped and said his pants weren't loose enough for the kicks.

"I know," said MF. "I took Kung Fu for several years."

JP said to one male auditioner, "I like how you filled in the answers for bra and cup size, saying 'I don't have breasts.'"

(I think these measurements are requested on the audition form for costume fitting later, if the auditioner is accepted to the next level.)

"Well, I don't," said the auditioner. "Is that a prerequisite?"

"No." "No." said JP and AZ, looking across MF at each other. "That's not why we're here."

"It's why I'm here," said MF.

"Mmm," someone muttered, and it was quiet for a second or two before the conversation moved on.

I first saw MF last night, after the horrendous day of setting up the audio equipment as described in the previous post. I was leaving the hotel, and as I entered the space between outer and inner n doors, I first saw the short dark-haird sub-producer of this show who is bossed around by the producers as if she were a PA, coming in through the outside door. She was smiling and has one of those haircuts with longer hair tapering to a point about neck length in front of her ears, and shorter around the back like a boy’s. I had not met her personally yet, but I nodded to her as a familiar face around the set; then I saw the woman in front of her who had just let the outer door nearly close on this sub-producer, who made eye contact with me and then looked back at the sub-producer giving orders in her sort of gripy, nasally voice. This second woman’s turning head was perfect, a sculpture to be viewed from all sides: skin pure white, noise pointed, hair coiffed to immobility but in a way that sets the standard for how it should be done -- not like your local newscaster’s, but with a level of virtuosity that returns, at its height, to a level of ease and naturalness. It’s like MP playing piano, that coif is.

They had a makeup artist, but MF did her own in her room before coming down today, and again, she looked like a pristine doll. She was patient with me clipping the mic to her orange sequined blazer, but I sensed that she may not want me to clip the transmitter pack to her waist. Women in tight jeans tend not to like that. In fact, clipping the transmitter pack to a woman’s waist usually causes more consternation than my putting the microphone itself in, or near, her breasts. Most of the women I do this to are regular folks who have not been in a video before and are completely unprepared for the experience. They have spent the morning making themselves up a little more than usual, preparing for the camera; then here comes the audio guy dropping a mic cable down their shirt and tucking it into their pants waistline. And if they’ve got a roll of fat there, it takes me extra time to get the cable under that roll and into the waistline, and I have to push against the roll in back to get the transmitter close enough to their pants waist to clip it there. By the time I’m done, they’ve given up a certain amount of dignity, like maybe they’ve been to the doctor or something, and they’re all the more malleable for the director.

But I have learned, starting with PH a few years ago, that woman actors in reality TV like to clip the transmitter on themselves, so when it came time to do this, I said, “M, should I clip this to your waist, or do you--”

“I’ll do it,” she said, and took it from me.

I got her and AZ miced, and then the producers said they wanted the mics hidden, so I had to go back and re-plant them inside the shirts and blazers. All three of these actors were cool with that, not complaining. And their clothes were quiet, so it all sounded pretty good.

MF was totally cognizant of her transmitter. Whenever there was a break, her transmitter was the one that went off, turned off by her, to avoid any possible sticky situation. And she knows audio -- when an auditioner came in with his cell phone to use as a prop, she spoke up right away and told him to turn it off. “It makes a beeping noise on the mics,” she said, “even if you have the ringer off. It’s the radio waves.”

Amen, sister! I’ve never had anyone who goes on camera understand this before. Usually I’m saying, “Can you power down your cell phone,” and they’re saying, “it’s on vibrate,” and I’m saying, “we can hear that, can you power it down?” and they’re saying, “okay now the ringer is off,”and I’m saying, “no, we may still hear it, it’s not the sound by the radio waves it emits, the mic picks them up and makes a chirping noise,” and they still don’t get it.

MF is very down-to-earth, sensible, professional, nice. JP is also very nice -- he walked in, walked past boom operator S and myself and said, “Hi guys, how’re you doing?” sensing, I guess, by our appearance, that we were some of the “guys who get this thing done.” I did not recognize him, not being an SNL afficionado, but he had makeup on so I guessed it was him. And AZ is very nice too. All are easy to work with and good people.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice build-up from your last post. Has the human interest aspect, aside from one Green Door reference. NOW I know why I thought you were interesting. :) --Lisa