This post could have come a couple weeks earlier, as I was cast as the villain in an upcoming episode of Discovery Channel’s “The REAL NCIS.”  I was on call to shoot for two days in a given week.  I was asked for my wardrobe sizes (standard operating procedure), and was asked by the casting director if I could look “scuzzier” than I appear in my headshot — obviously someone not accustomed to my work!

While my appearance progressed towards the paleolithic, I would follow-up daily for an update on my call time and location.  Each day, I was told to check in the next, until the entire week had passed.  I then contacted my agent for an update, but little more information was available.  Maybe I was not scrawny enough to pull off the role of Mayport murderer John Edward Brewer, but to my knowledge, no other local talent was called in for this part, either.

Another lesson learned at a recent audition…well, something we all know, but don’t always put into practice…is always clarify with the director or casting director if there are any doubts about how to deliver a line.  There’s a fine line there, since the actor should also rely on his own creativity and character development to determine the proper delivery.  I erred on the wrong side, which led to a somewhat comic event.

The audition scene was set in a courtroom, and as the defendant, I had the line, “Yes, sir…ma’am.”  While preparing for the audition, I assumed (ack!) this was a sarcastic retort delivered towards a female judge.  In actuality, the role of the judge had not been cast, so the line was written to accommodate either a “Yes, sir” or “Yes, ma’am” response.

To compound matters, I read against a male actor portraying the judge; however, I have already decided in my own mind that the judge would eventually be a woman, so I proceded to perform the scene according to my original assumption.  When I got to the, “Yes, sir — er, ma’am,” the gentleman I read with responded with, “What?…Are you confused?”  We all had a good laugh at that one, and the director added, “Funny, but we can’t use it.”

So, I need to remind myself, even if I am absolutely positive about a line read, to make a note on the script and ask before the actual audition.  Needless to say, I did not get that part, but was later offered the role of a police officer for the same project.

The shoot was for a local charity to use at an upcoming fund raiser, and all resources, including cast and crew, were donated.  Hey, I have worked for free before, but this was different:  it was a philanthropic endeavor.  Although everyone volunteered their time for this micro-budget independent film, all departments operated with the same professionalism as they would on any other project.

The biggest challenge during shooting had to do with the location itself.  It was decided that, rather than find an alternate site to double as the non-profit organization’s facility, that the actual venue would be used.  We were shooting while the operation was active, so we had to accommodate multiple unscheduled breaks as the client’s members were given priority use of the space.

Children were also major contributors to the piece, and with most young actors, patience is not only a virtue, but an absolute operating requirement.  Fortunately, all were well-behaved, and their parents were on hand to calm them during any anxious moments.  All-in-all, the project ran smoothly, we all enjoyed collaborating on the film, and, as with any other shoot, we also got in a little networking on the side.

Scott J. Smith

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