In the Heat of Summer

This past month has been a bit more “relaxed” as far as auditions and shoots go.  This has given me time to fine-tune various useful skills, touch base with industry professionals, and get my video demo and resume updated to include my recent work for the online real estate sales tool N-Play and HBO’s Recount,which was filmed in Jacksonville last year and nominated for eleven Emmy awards.There have been a few independent productions working in the area this summer.  The script for one such film was presented to me last month.  I read with delight the character “Richard,” who faces a domino-effect of bad decisions while dealing with his sexual addiction, until it takes him too far.  I relished the prospect of constructing this multi-layered character, but ultimately declined the audition due to one specific activity, though vital to the character, I felt I was not prepared to perform with the required zeal.

Another call I received was for “hand models.”  Although I do not have such work in my current portfolio, I captured a few images for submission.  I typically do not get such requests, but the work is obviously out there.  Well, you know what they say:  “There’s a first time for everything.”  Right?  Anyway, in this business, when you are asked, “Can you…” or “Do you…,” the answer is always, “Yes”…and then you do whatever it takes so that you can.

Even though this is not the peak time of year for film and television, there are still moments that keep you on your toes:  This past Saturday, after videotaping footage at a Florida Antique Aircraft Collectors Association in St. Augustine, I proceeded to Dave and Buster’s Restaurant on Jacksonville’s Southside to facilitate the initial read-through of the upcoming show A Vote for Murder, running August through November.

I also had a last-minute request for a performance of a “YouDunnit,” an interactive comedy mystery product where members of the audience play suspects in the crime.  As luck would have it, the YouDunnit was scheduled at the same time as the read-through, also at Dave and Buster’s. An hour later, I had a call time for an audition downtown for a Coggin Auto / Jacksonville Jaguars commercial.

I felt very good about that audition.  (I usually do when I can call upon my physicality and my ability to improvise.)  I had the chance to meet with Phil Ramirez, a colleague of mine, who praised my “professionalism”; however, as a professional, the most appropriate course of action for me would have been to simply leave after auditioning, and promise to touch base with him at another time. (Auditions are no place for chit-chat, even if it is industry-related.)  This is something I constantly have to remind myself…I tend to embrace occasions to socialize, especially with friends and fellow professionals.

Later that night, we celebrated my wife’s birthday with friends at Sticky Fingers for dinner, then a showing of The Dark Knight, starring Christian Bale and the late Heath Ledger.  Despite all the posthumous praise focused solely on “The Joker,” the entire cast put on solid performances, the story was a refreshing departure from the typical superhero formula, and the score, cinematography and special effects were first rate.

Especially exceptional were the fight scenes.  With so many films using impractical movements (like the trapeze-assisted fantasy martial arts “rotisserie kick”), computer graphics (slow-motion / freeze-frame 360’s) and strobe-light visual effects to disguise poor fighting techniques, The Dark Knight showed dedication to the art and skill of hand-to-hand combat training and choreography. The motions were fluid, efficient and fast-paced; a feast for the audience rather than a distraction.

I try not to nitpick when at the movies, but often I can not help it.  (Likely an occupational hazard.)  This movie had incredibly little to nitpick about. There are no major spoilers in the below paragraph, but if you plan on seeing the film for the first time soon, you might want to skip to the next.

For makeup (and apologies to comic-book enthusiasts if these were intended nuances for each character), the mayor’s eyeliner and Officer Gordon’s moustache color were rather distracting. The only other item of note was a line that could have been written differently: near the climax, “Rachel Dawes” (Maggie Gyllenhaal, who looks too much like Spiderman’s “Mary Jane,” played by Kirsten Dunst) is urged to go to a location identified as “the safest place,” but this is a location where she was recently attacked by “The Joker.”

…but I digress.  This blog is not intended to be chock-full of movie reviews.  I made an exception this time, because (a) this capped off a very busy and fun-filled day, and (b) once mentioned, I can’t close this entry without adding my thoughts about the film that has attained such success in record time.

Scott J. Smith

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