I'll elaborate on this later, but for now, I wanted to mention a fantastic experience I had with Kim Murray, Samad Banks and the cast and crew with Flickers Studios' production Thunder, written and directed by Rob O'Cruz.
I was in the midst of completing one project, while also touching base with the pre-production team for a web series I have been supporting for the past year, when I came across a casting notice for a feature film. I was a bit torn, because 1) I had little time to prepare for the audition the way I would like, even though the role was "right up my alley" (I have often joked I could create a demo reel of that type character, alone), and 2) I wasn't sure if the timing of the shoot would have accommodated other things I had going on at that time. Even though I love the work this team puts out, and consider them friends, I felt that since I wasn't 100% sure, that I'd "let this one go" (which kind of ate me up inside, a little).
Well, that didn't suffice. Not much time had passed when I was asked (scolded, really), why I wasn't planning on auditioning. I explained my situation, but was urged to submit for the role, anyway. The sides I received kind of had a gritty "Criminal Minds" feel to it. Going with that impression, I taped a couple reads, and felt pretty good about both. The callback, however, happened to be on a day when my family and I would be out of town. Often when traveling, I pack a "mobile studio" for those occasions when I get called for a last-minute film or voiceover audition. Since this was a day-trip, I made plans for an "ultra-mobile studio" (essentially, my smartphone, with appropriate videoconferencing apps installed and configured ahead of time)*, since there was no telling where I would be, nor what access to lighting, soundproofing and privacy I might have at my disposal.
* - I do not recommend smartphones, no matter how "capable" they are nor what "new-fangled" features they might have, for auditions. Yes, yes, yes...there have been feature films shot on Nokias and iPhones...I get it, but for a professional audition, we should always use professional equipment. The only exception would be if you received a call and were expected to immediately provide an audition on the spot. Even then, I'd look around for a camcorder, DSLR or something that is more capable, and try to light and frame it as close to any other audition as possible.
So, yeah, I kind of broke my own rule, but I knew I wasn't going to carry my typical setup with me throughout the day with the family. Not only would I not be with my family, but I'd also run the risk of that equipment being misplaced or damaged. So, the time came for the callback, and the building where we were had spotty connectivity to both Wi-Fi and cellular. I hunted for a strong Wi-Fi signal, and none could be found. Even the cellular connection wavered between 2G and 4G during the call, dropping video packets, and turning my video audition into a spotty slideshow.
I don't like presenting myself like this, and I surely don't want to waste the director's and producer's time, but we trudged forward...by phone call. I half felt like just bowing out of the running for this film. Though I would love to play the part and work with this crew again, it seemed like it just wasn't meant to be. We continued the (audio) audition, despite the wind I couldn't escape, the cars driving by every few seconds, and even more spotty coverage during the voice call. Yes, the whole scenario is laughable, but they were willing to hear me out, so I gave it my best, despite all these setbacks.
I thanked them for their time and concluded the call. I didn't invest too much thought into being cast after that experience, and was pleased to be notified of my inclusion in the cast. When I arrived at the table read, it felt like a homecoming. I met other talent I have enjoyed working with on stage, at workshops and in front of the camera. Seeing each person approach their role, and having experience working with them, it was rather obvious why each of them were cast in the role they now inhabited. It was also great to meet some fresh faces, as well, who rounded out the cast very nicely.
The production's "base-of-operations" was on a large rural property, which doubled as the main character's home, so most of the cast and crew lived, ate and slept in the environment being portrayed on film. I think that connection with the location has added an extra layer of authenticity to the performance. Even between scenes, everyone seemed to feel "at home" here. I even joked we were at "film-making camp"! The same bonds you create with others when you spend that amount of time with each other elsewhere is just as strong during filming, and surely benefits the overall production.
I had an incredible time performing, making new friends, and strengthening other friendships, and I look forward to seeing Thunder on the big screen!