Thursday, June 20, 2013

Get Your Butt To LA, Part 56: Say No More.

I once booked a role in a film, but immediately had a bad feeling about it. By the time it was too late to back out, I was in a location from Hell – the frigid LA Forest – with unbearable accommodations – a cabin fit for a unabomber, with no heat – and a script so bad, it read like a toddler spilled those poetry magnets on the floor.

I’d managed to suppress any memory of it until yesterday, when I read a great cautionary tale in the LA Times about an actress named Katey Houck (that’s her, above), who recently had an audition for a film called May the Best Man Win. It turned out it was not an audition, but a Borat-style prank, in which unsuspecting actresses were asked by an English production company to perform in blackface, or impersonate Adolf Hitler and shout Nazi propaganda. The “joke” was to see if the actresses were desperate enough to audition for a part that they thought was immorally reflected. Katey was mortified when she found out.

Bottom line: the most powerful word in the English language is “no.” It’ll help you take charge of anything from sketchy auditions, to shifty agents, to shutting up your inner critic. Heck – it also works wonders in your dating life.

A few years ago, I arrived at an audition for a sitcom and it was utter chaos. The German writer/director looked like a genuine axe murder, and acted like one too, hustling actors in and out of his set, forcing them to read for roles they didn’t have prepared. And his “sitcom” script had all the charm of a German axe murderer. Before my turn came up, I left. It was the only audition I’ve ever walked out on.

It turned out the German was Tommy Wiseau, the infamous writer/director/star of the best/worst film ever made: The Room. (Killer review here.) This movie is so bad it’s shown like the The Rocky Horror Picture Show to packed, mocking audiences in Los Angeles at midnight screenings. I highly recommend attending one – it’s a real rite of passage in LA.

I got a hold of Katey Houck and asked her if there was anything she wanted to say that wasn’t mentioned by the Times. She said, “Yeah – they took advantage of that vulnerability we as actors need when we are in the room, and exploited it.”

Damn right. And we do it for free, or worse – at our own expense, driving across town and taking time off from our day jobs, only to have some English assholes pull some shit. Speaking of which, the article mentions some of the pranks being performed in the film include “someone being pelted by what appear to be dog feces, and two people dressed as genitalia appearing to engage in sexual intercourse while ice skating.” Yeah, memo to any producers who attempt to prank me in any audition, ever: I am more than willing to spend a night in jail.

Actors, when you get out here, be take-charge right out of the gate. It’ll render the untalented producers extinct, and endear you to the legitimate ones. If something doesn’t feel right, turn around and get the F out. Just after you force-feed the producers that dog shit.

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