Auditions and the Kickoff Session

Auditions and the Kickoff Session

A lot has happened since the last post.  And it is all cool stuff!


I posted the audition call on various sites I found through search.  These are the sites:

Most calls came from Castcaller which costs $2 per month.

People had to signup for an audition on this site and then I would call them back and put them on the schedule, then send them an email with the time and place, which was at  … Commons Studio.

I scheduled 24 auditions.  It was a cold day in January but thankfully the studio was really toasty when I got there to set up.  I used my Android phone as a video camera and dumped the videos onto my laptop with AirDroid app (through wifi).

Most were well-prepared with a monolog.  I think an audition monolog is probably one of the most difficult things to do well.  I had them do some other things like just stand there like you don’t want to be there and I would say things for them to react to.  Then I switched it and had them act like they really wanted to be there.  I wasn’t looking for anything specific, more just getting a sense of what it would be like to work with them.  In the, I have to say, the ones I chose, had the most experience, the best monologs, were easy to communicate with and had a lot of enthusiasm for how the project would be put together.

I let a few days go by to let it all sink in.  My brain was already on fire, creating relationships and story with the people who’d I’d chosen.  But I forced myself to not write any of it down because the process is a collaborative one and is created by what comes out of the group experience.  Sounds all airy fairy but now that we’ve had our first session together, I can say that it works!


You Got the Job

I told the eight actors the news via a group email.  “Congrats! You are invited to be a part of…”  I also attached an Agreement that they would all have to sign.  It outlines our obligations and how, if there are profits, how they will be shared.  I also gave them this information for the Kickoff Session:

The first time all of you meet each other is an important moment. It will never happen again and that why we will actually have our first rehearsal be a working session. Here’s how we’ll do it – it will be a lot of fun. I want you to come to the first session in character. This will likely not be the character you play – it’s just a beginning – the first seed you’re all going to sow to grow this garden. This is not an exercise like, ooh, I think I’ll play a tiger, that’ll shake things up. Please don’t play a tiger or any other animal. I want you to be a real person, someone you understand from the inside out. Don’t play someone way older or younger than you or someone who you just don’t truly know – like a doctor or famous rock star. There’s no reason to be choosing something extreme either, like, mental or physical illness. We will develop the extremes in later sessions. Choose something ‘close to home.’ “
What is the setting? Your character has been invited to a unique social occasion – which it is, in reality, so that will help make it real for you. And you want to be there because otherwise you wouldn’t be and that just wouldn’t work. At least that’s how you feel when you arrive. Let it unfold from there. In some way, be in character from the time you arrive to the time you leave. There’s no reason for any of us to be talking about The Toronto Movie Project. That doesn’t exist in our character’s lives. I recommend you choose a different first name than your own – this will help you stay in character. Again, you are not married to this name.
This is a social occasion for your character. Very casual – no need to dress up. I’ll bring some snacks and soft drinks. It’s a casual “get to know each other” get together. You should make the choice of really wanting to get to know everyone. Make up a reason for that – it shouldn’t be hard seeing how it is probably the case in reality. Feel free to fabricate anything that helps you be your character. You will not be held to this – all of it can change as we take the next steps toward the creating the character you will play.
Mingle however you normally would. Conversations of 2s, 3s, the whole group – whatever. You want to get to know these people. If you slip into yourself a bunch of times, no worries, just keep moving on and be your character as much as you can. When you get home, make as many notes as you can about your observations of others and your experience that you do not want to forget. Keeping notes about your sessions will greatly improve your final performance in the movie.

First Session

I couldn’t find a rehearsal space in time for the Kickoff Session so I hosted at my house.  This was actually a good thing because it needed to be a social atmosphere.  Snacks, music, etc.  Everyone, except one, used a different name and made some character choices.  Some were obvious and others we couldn’t tell because no one knows each other.  The cool thing was everyone was there and all of them totally into it.

At the end I gave them some homework which was to send me an email about their experience.  What did they notice about each other?  Themselves?  This turned out to be incredible.  They wrote back with their thoughts and feelings about each other and this gave us some seeds to sow as there were obvious and natural and things starting to happen in each person and how they related to each other.

I wrote back to each one: my reflections on their reflections which I told them were “just ideas” … things they could consider to deepen or not.  They are not directions.  One thing I asked certain people to do was relive or meditate on certain moments they experienced so they could recall them and use it in scenes.  This is like filling up the toolbox.  You need a toolbox full of good tools and you need to practice using them.


Finding Rehearsal Space

There are a lot of rehearsal spaces around town but most are booked on the one night when we can all meet.  Today I managed to find some space at a dance studio at a college.  A really nice space but we might get bumped into the small studio sometimes.  No big deal – rolling with it is important.


Get Them Ready for Session 2

I sent them an email this afternoon telling them how we’ll be warming up.  First, we’re going to laugh for one minute.  This should be …wait for it – funny!  It will help to get people relaxed and in a positive frame of mind.  Then we are going to all learn to sing “Tell Me Baby” by The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The rest of the email said this:

This is not an easy song to sing, so it will help you with your voice, which, as an actor needs constant training throughout your career.  The lyrics are attached.
We will sing with the music with the goal of singing without it, and finally, singing it in pairs.  Singing it alone doesn’t have much purpose – singing this together, in sync with your partner requires you to work together… like how you will need to work together building scenes.
So, practice this song on your own, so you can do it well with others – let’s see how quickly we can sing it together without playing the music.
3. A few minutes to warm up on your own.  Do what you think you need to do to warm up and be ready to work.  This can anything: running, stretching, voice exercises, meditation.  Get yourself in a positive, open, and giving state!
4. Then we give each other a warm and supportive greeting.  Let everyone know you are there for them, to help them do their best – use whatever words and gestures that communicate this authentically. 
Then we get to work.  I will have many things for you to do!  Some of the time you will be watching others perform.  But you are as involved as they are because you need to learn about them.  Bring a notebook so you can take notes.  Sorry, don’t use your phone for note taking.
I am so excited that I can hardly sleep at night!

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