LEND ME AN EAR
For nine years, the Bi-Union Radio Players have been volunteering their talents for the annual Lend Me an Ear night of old-time radio benefiting the Atlanta Community Food Bank. During that period, we have had nearly 100 diverse cast members. It really has helped us to become a cohesive group.
There is much buzz in the entertainment world here in anticipation of the event. We actually know of at least one SAG-AFTRA-eligible actor who joined just to be able to perform in the show! In addition to bringing our SAG-AFTRA and local AEA members together for a good cause, it allows our brothers and sisters to hone their craft and expand their horizons, perhaps giving them the opportunity to do voices and characters not normally in their repertoire.
The great publicity the event always generates also helps brand the union as a community player, especially as we are higher profile now that we have so much work as a result of our tax incentives, which is really fantastic in a “right-to-work-for-less” state.
This year we are celebrating our 10th anniversary of Lend Me an Ear, and are hoping to secure the rights to something special: Orson Welles' The War of the Worlds, in honor of the 75th anniversary of its broadcast. This could prove to be another big boon for our organizing work here in Atlanta.
Read more about radio players in the Winter 2013 issue of SAG-AFTRA magazine. Click here to view it.
Co-National Board member
Recently, I took an informal poll of some of our local audition taping services in the Atlanta area, and I even checked with a few of these services in Los Angeles. I wanted to find out just how busy some of these services have been during the television pilot season. As we all know, the days of live auditions before a casting director have been altered dramatically, owing not only to the technology, but due to the short turnarounds that the industry now seems to demand. It is no longer typical for actors to have several days to prepare for an audition. The audition process for film and television now requires faster script analysis and shorter memorization times. Even in some cases of live auditions, actors have to walk in, sign a nondisclosure agreement, and are then handed the sides.
Now that's what you call a cold reading.
My polling of some of the audition taping services confirmed what I’d been hearing from many actors in Atlanta and Los Angeles. The better services are staying booked from early in the morning until late into the evening. Just yesterday, one of my friends told me he had to do a last-minute audition for a television show long after midnight so the file would be on the casting director’s desk by 9 a.m.
Fortunately, my friend has been able to create a high-quality studio in her home and has the luxury of working anytime, provided she can find a willing reader. So what about the actors who may have several auditions in any given week or month? What serves as the most economical way to shoot a high-quality audition? This is an important question because we have also come to realize the self-taped video audition may serve as the only audition we have for a particular role. Many roles in television shows and feature films are being cast directly from the video auditions without any callback.
While it is always nice to get into the room with the director and producer so that the actor can have an opportunity to make a real connection with the decision-makers, those opportunities seem be happening less frequently.
With our individual acting performances, there are many different processes we use to achieve the desired results. I think the same holds true for the various ways we approach our video auditions. I encourage all of you to explore the best ways to shoot auditions by talking to other actors, looking at samples of the work being turned out by the various taping services and, if you do your videos at home, experiment with your lighting, sound and backdrop in order to reach the highest quality to showcase your work. A poor-quality video will only serve to diminish an otherwise solid performance.
If you need any additional incentive to pay more attention to the improving the audition process, then I refer you to the most recent Georgia production report from the state film office, which includes four full theatrical films and more than 12 television series, pilots and TV movies.
Wilbur T. Fitzgerald
5757 Wilshire Boulevard, 7th Floor
Los Angeles, California