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.