Another audition – short film, unpaid. In the scene, I’m driving and let this stranger in my car because he needs to go to the hospital. But… he’s actually… a ghost! Creepy. I go through the scene and feel OK about it. The director, Julius, asks me to go through it again – this time with a little more foreboding, like it’s ominous. I go again, taking his notes. That wasn’t bad. But then, he surprises me. “This is a ghost story, so there will be some scary moments. I want to see you react to something scary. So I’m going to have you stand up, turn around, and after I count to five, turn around and be scared by what’s in front of you.”
Jesus. I am not prepared for this. I laugh a little as I stand up. Self-doubt starts to creep its way in – I do my best to fight it off. Take a step behind the chair as he kind of repeats his instructions for me. My mind is racing. Who’s scary? Who would terrify me? Then he says, “Something is there, in your face.” Some-THING? “Yes.” Oh great, it’s a thing. Like this changes everything. Trying to buy time. What’s scary, what’s scary. Spiders! Ew, I hate them. It’s a big one. No, that’s so stupid! Shit, it’s happening. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. I turn around. Don’t ask me what I was thinking about in that moment. Maybe I was just terrified of what I was about to do. I instinctively put my hands up towards my face and move backwards, crouching down somewhat. I don’t wait for him to yell cut – which, obviously, I am supposed to do. “Great, good.” I sit down. He talks a little more about the project, then, “Wanna do it again?” Do I ever, Julius! Stand back up and move behind the chair. You’d think it would be easier the second time. No, it’s not. But I embrace it. Let’s do this.
And it’s over. Well. That was certainly unexpected. I could have done better. I could have committed more to being scared, but I don’t think I did terrible.
The following week, I get a callback. Whaaaaattt! Get out of here. In the email, Julius asks about my availability, if I can shoot the following Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Ugh, that means I have to take off work AGAIN. I really can’t afford to do this right now, but I’m not going to say no when I haven’t even been cast yet. I tell him I have work but I can get off, and that I’ll see him at the callback next week.
Don’t even ask me how this next thing happens. The callback is on Monday, in the afternoon. I meet with Action! before then, and explain my trepidation. I really can’t afford to take off work, but I already told the director that it’s fine to work for free – after all, the casting said it was unpaid. The girls assure me that it’s OK to ask for money. “If he can’t afford to pay you, then you can’t do it.” Even though I already said I could?? “Yes! He hasn’t cast you yet. It’s fine.” Ugh, OK. I am preparing myself to tell him this at the callback. I’m somewhat dreading it. I don’t want to deal with the confrontation. There were original callbacks on Friday, and I can’t go until Monday… maybe he will cast it on Friday and I won’t even be needed for the callback.
Sunday night I work. When I get home, I check my email. Julius has emailed to let me know that he has, in fact, cast the role, and I don’t need to come to the audition tomorrow. Slightly bummed, but relieved at the same time. I don’t have to deal with telling him I can’t do it unless he pays me.
Monday I wake up and do my morning pages, writing about my plans for the day – have a callback later. Oh wait, wow, I forgot. I checked my email when I got home from work last night and Julius emailed that he had already cast the role and I didn’t have to come in. Bummer I guess, but more relieved that I don’t have to deal with it!
Wrong-o. The callback was supposed to be at 3. He texts me at 3:15, letting me know his phone number and that if I’m having any trouble finding the place, to call him. What the- ?
So yea, I missed the callback. Must have dreamt that he emailed me about casting someone else. Probably because I just wanted to ignore the problem. I call him immediately, apologizing and explaining my ridiculous self. He’s very nice and understanding. I can come back on Wednesday to audition. Great! I’ll be there.
At work that night, I realize I never told him about paying me. Because all I was thinking about was that I missed the callback! So when I get home from work, I email him. Hey Julius, I wanted to apologize again for missing the callback today. I can’t believe I thought you emailed me when you didn’t. I swear, I must have dreamt it! Very unprofessional of me, so I’m sorry. I meant to tell you this today at the audition, and then forgot when I talked to you on the phone because I was so flustered by missing it, but I do unfortunately have a small problem. I know I told you I could get off work, and I have no issue with working for free – usually – but I have been taking off too much work for unpaid projects recently and am super stressed out financially. I make all my money on the weekends, so I really can’t afford to take off this Saturday and Sunday, unless you could pay me $100 a day.
I expect him to reply that he has decided to go with someone else, but instead, he replies with, “Hi Lindsay, hmm, yes, that seems only fair. For the shooting days after Thanksgiving, would you and I be able to work around your work schedule to curb your loss of pay and my production costs? Would you be able to officially accept the role as of this point? It is cutting close to the shoot, and a table read tomorrow with the two other actors would be much more helpful in lieu of another audition. This commitment would, of course, involve Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, but I’m also hoping you’d be able to sacrifice a few hours Thursday in the morning, so let me know about Thursday morning availability, as well. Please get back to me as soon as you can and, if things square, I can send you the script. Thanks.”
Totally not the response I was expecting. I’m in! And booked for next weekend to act. And get paid for it. Working actor, bitchessss.
*Band of Horses