Yesterday I attended my very first casting for a commercial. Looking at the email notification on my phone on Thursday evening brought some sense of grandeur, as my new found agent let me know about a great first casting opportunity. My girlfriend Sam immediately got my most formal clothes out of my closet, because the character I was casting for needed to dress smartly for the occasion. It didn’t help that I don’t have the most boss looking smart clothes ever. Yikes! Nonetheless, I was determined to attend my first casting. However, my wildest imaginations could not prepare me for the anti-climactic experience of sitting in a waiting room with 200 other potentials – all vying for a role in an internationally aired commercial.
After our last show at a farm school just outside Paarl, it took me almost an hour to get to Kuilsriver train station; where I boarded a train to Cape Town CBD. That took another 40 minutes. I arrived at the casting studio at around 14:30 to a room filled to the brim by a large number of people all dressed in formal clothes. The lady at the counter haphazardly and somewhat rudely then prompted me to fill in a casting form and abruptly asked me if I brought along formal clothes – to which I meekly uttered a shaky ‘yes’ (I was still wearing my kiddy actor garb at this point). On a small green piece of paper was scribbled my number: 170. At this point the casting process had barely scraped the 100 mark – it was gonna be a long afternoon I surmised. Peering into the main casting lounge all I could see was many good looking male actors, all under the age of 25. Most of them were tall, muscular models. The brief specified that the character did not have perfect looks. What the hell was I doing here?
After 2 hours there appeared to be some movement as the director called in the numbers nearing mine. Fortunately I’d brought a very interesting book along, so I don’t think I was as bored as the other blokes all staring into their phones and checking their Facebook/Twitter feeds.
Finally my number was called and I walked into the studio with three other blokes, all of them models – one an exotic and tanned Frenchman, the other an indigenous Indian and the other an economics major from the University of Cape Town. We then took photos, introduced ourselves to the camera and were then required to do a short improvisation that lasted something like 30 seconds. Little acting happened, since next to the blue steel look – I don’t think models know much about improvising. I tried my best to look exciting and spontaneous – surely that must’ve counted for something. After the 30 seconds were done, the director said thank you and we were asked to leave. I waited in line for over 2 hours – for a measly 30 seconds? Nice!
I exited the building to the heavy greeting of the pouring rain. By the time I got to Cape Town train station I was partially soaked. I then treated myself to a nice McDonalds meal that disappeared into my belly as I pondered the afternoon’s occurrences and waited for the 17:30 train.
I suppose, we all have to start somewhere.