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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Stonehenge VI in DC was awesome! :: Some thoughts

Attended the DC area mass indie film auditioning event Stonehenge today; glad I did - briefly met 120 or so actors, collected head shots/resumes, got to know some local filmmakers. Team Jabberwocky, the producers of 'henge, did an excellent job today - all went very smoothly, with zero frustrations to me as a filmmaker attending a 'henge event for the first time. Stonehenge is a great resource for DC area indie filmmakers.

Each of the actors who auditioned had, I believe, 90 seconds (i may be wrong on this, either way, no more than 2-3 minutes) to perform a monologue. The performances that I found most effective; ones that allowed me to observe potential skills of the actors were ones where the actor did not use an incredibly dramatic/shocking monologue. I'll explain; when I was watching actors I was not evaluating the exact monologue they chose, but rather how it was delivered, specially what I call "the low notes" - it is kind of difficult to totally fail on delivering the big emotions - rage, deep sorrow, etc., but it is more difficult to deliver/show the more subtle emotions/states of being - uncertainty, confusion, cautious optimism, etc. The kind of scripts I am writing - comedy-dramas basically - require actors who can hit those comparatively lower notes well. Anyway, this is just 1 filmmaker's opinion, but I found monologues that dealt with shocking or explicit sexuality/related matters such as sexual abuse (sexuality was a topic favored by many of the actresses - well, it stood out - maybe at least 10-20 actresses or more) to be distracting. The topic of the monologue was so huge/complex/dramatic I started thinking about the content of the monologue rather than paying close attention to the performance. Same for monologues that dealt with race & racial conflicts, racial discrimination etc; a topic favored by many of the African-American actors who auditioned today. Me and 2 other filmmakers (one African-American, one from Puerto Rico) compared notes re: African-American actors at the end of the day (because all three of us I believe are looking for African-American actors for upcoming projects) and it turned out that the top 3 African-American actors that we saw today (who we thought did best in that group) all did not perform a monologue that explicitly dealt with race; rather their monologues were either mini-narratives (one was a funny story about a dancer) or were about more lighthearted personal experiences. So, here's what I am thinking - sexual drama and racial conflicts are very big & serious topics, perhaps the 90 sec. or whatever brief audition, audition #1, should be treated like a first date - with the intent of wanting to set up follow up encounters - or, maybe the displaying of wit, charm, with flashes of dramatic possibility/range should be the goal rather than throwing the audience into heavy dramatic situations at that first, brief audition. Again, these are just 1 filmmaker's observations, and no doubt the kind of scripts I am writing now & the kind of movies I enjoy have a lot to do with this preference. All in all, my monologue 1 topic preferences aside :), 95% of the actors I saw today deserve call backs, I believe.

Looking forward to exploring the possibility of working with some of the actors I saw today. Already talked to one, her audition reminded me of a feature script idea that I worked on but shelved a few months ago, perhaps it can be picked back up & produced soon - this actress I saw today might be able to bring to life well the type of character at the center of the story that I am thinking about. We are meeting this week to discuss the project in detail. And there are at least a handful more actors I'd like to speak with in the coming week - need to find 2 actors for my 2 Actors short, just to mention one upcoming project. And when I shoot the next feature, when casting time comes around later this year (May? June?), I'll keep in mind a lot of the actors I saw today.

And that's all for now re: my visit to Stonehenge VI; sleep, Sunday stuff, & work on the DNO DVD next.

Big thanks to everyone who made Stonehenge VI possible and specially to all the actors who came & auditioned. Can't make good indie fiction movies (for the most part) without enthusiastic & skilled actors. Nice to see so many from the DC area in one day in one place.

- Sujewa

4 comments:

PR_GMR said...

Very nice write-up of the event, Sujewa. I agree with your about the notion of looking at actors during their 'low' moments, as that gives you a better idea how well and naturalistic they will be able to bring a character to live before the camera. And yes, the black actors who were at their best were the ones who chose more nuanced monologues and who steered away from charged racial monologues.

Very nice blog, btw. I will have to stop by often.

Armando

The Sujewa said...

Great meeting you at the event Mr. Armando. Thanks for checking out the blog. See ya at the b'more 'henge aka CharmHenge!

- Sujewa

Bjorn said...

Good observations. I think you put your finger on one of the things I found most valuable in a monologue: transformation or discovery. The actors who do those monologues and give us a fully inhabited journey are the ones that really stand out. Too many folks decide to play "angry" or "victimized" and it's just not real because it has no specificity or shape.

The Sujewa said...

Hey Bjorn!

Nice to hear from ya. Thanks for developing Henge over the last couple of years - great tool for local filmmakers.

- Sujewa

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