Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Dress-up

One thing that's always a little dicey to me about commercial auditions is how far you go in costuming your character.

Normally it's very straightforward -- for men at least. You get a written character breakdown or a description from your agent and you go with some variation of "casual," "nice casual," "business casual," or "business."

But sometimes you're auditioning for a character that may or may not involve some degree of costuming or props -- stuff you wouldn't necessarily find, much less wear, from your normal wardrobe. And I always seem to be a little off in how far I go.

A week or so ago was "Aging Rock Star." I sat across from a guy I've known (in acting circles) for almost two years and I didn't recognize him at all. He had giant aviator sunglasses, a bandana, jeans, jacket, boots -- the whole getup. When normally he looks like he stepped out of a Ralph Lauren ad. I had very little rock-n-roll gear (he actually borrowed his son's clothes), so I was pretty minimalist -- boots, jeans, t-shirt, etc. -- and decided to rely mostly on my acting skills.

Then this week one of my auditions called for what was described as kind of a nerdy scientist/lab worker guy. They specifically called for a starched, short-sleeve dress shirt and tie, and also added that the guy never spends more than $7 on a haircut. I mean, they were really detailed. So I went all out (I'm sure partly because "nerdy guy" is much closer to who I am than "rock star"). Black pants, white socks, white s/s dress shirt, black tie, hair slicked down. I even wrapped white tape around the nose piece of my glasses. Of course, I get there and they're directing us to play it way, way down and really straight.

So there you go. I continue to audition a good bit -- about a dozen or so this month -- but I've been taking a really zen attitude toward it all. I just substituted "zen" for my original wording of "who gives a shit" because that's not quite accurate. I prepare, I try, but it honestly doesn't make a difference to me whether I get it or not. Maybe that's hurting my chances, but it's definitely better than pinning all your hopes on the merest suggestion of a potential gig.

I've just been so busy with work that I don't really need the money from the kind of gigs I've been auditioning for. I can make more at home than at a lot of these jobs. Plus it takes so long to get paid -- 90 days minimum -- that acting money feels a bit like funny-money anyway. It's all very abstract. I'm trying not to be too cavalier about things, but I just turned down another really small, last-minute, low-paying job last night.

And I think, damn, I've done that at least a half-dozen times in the past few months. Then I add up the money "lost" from all these gigs and it would barely be enough to pay a month's bills. Before taxes. And agent commissions.

Anyway, today is "straight-talking, no-nonsense" business guy. At least wardrobe-wise all I have to do is put on a suit.

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