You Never Know
It Just Goes to Show You
I’m pretty lucky sometimes. While playing tennis at Mom’s retirement community I met a guy who has connections. He casually mentioned that his buddy directs a few episodes each season of a hit Netflix show. I went home with that info but didn’t know what to do with it. I wasn’t sure if it would seem rudely opportunistic to ask for an introduction. But I did it anyway. Something about being around retirees. That sense of don’t waste another minute, and there’s no time like the present. So a week later, in the pool, I asked if I could meet this director.
My friend said I should email my website to him and he would pass it along to the director. I did it that night. Not 48 hours later I got an email from my agent saying I had an audition for this hit Netflix show. I was stunned. And so glad I stepped outside my comfort zone in asking for the introduction. So a script was sent my way with the instructions to put myself on tape and get it in by noon on 1/31. That was the day I was supposed to fly back to New York. My flight was at 2:00 and we were getting picked up at 11:00 so that we could stop for lunch. Anyway I don’t want to get too far ahead. The point is the tape was due on the same day I was flying back home. But I’ve done self tape auditions before and they’re a cinch. AND, my friend in the retirement community has serious on screen cred so he’s the perfect guy to read the scene with me. Only he’s out of town. Shit. He might be back on 1/30, but maybe not. I waited and hoped. He didn’t make it back on 1/30.
My Mom was getting over the flu. And she’s not an actress, although she becomes something similar to a dancer when she has sparkling wine. But she had never done anything like reading a very serious scene as a government agent interrogating her son who was playing a serial killer. But you know what? One Take Diana, that’s her new knickname. She was excellent. She sat behind my iPhone and read the lines in a low monotone like a pro. The rest was supposed to be the easy part.
It’s easy. Connect the iPhone to the Macbook, upload the video to iMovie, trim the front and back ends, maybe clean up the sound, and email it to my agent. Shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes. Done it many times. So I open my Macbook, turn on iMovie and connect my iPhone. iMovie shuts down. I don’t panic. It’s just that I’ve never done a self tape from my place in Florida before but I’m sure I can figure out whatever it is. I disconnect and reconnect my iPhone to my Macbook. iMovie shuts down. I immediately run across the hall to YouTube and search “iMovie keeps shutting down”. I learn that I have the old version of iMovie. They’re right! I remember upgrading to the newest operating system a few weeks ago. Well what the hell? That upgrade took like an hour and you’re now you’re telling me it didn’t bother to include iMovie? That’s a separate upgrade? Whatever. It shouldn’t take long. Click “update” and the spinner starts by saying “calculating” and then coughs up “time remaining: 1.2 days”. That has GOT to be a huge mistake. I try again. Same thing. I call my agent in a panic. “I can’t edit the footage and get it to you!” “Just email the raw footage to me as a Google Drive link.” “OK” I said, not sure what that meant entirely, but I knew I could figure it out fast. And I did! The blue text said “click here to upload Google Drive link”. And I clicked it. “Time remaining: 1.2 days” What’s happening? The deadline is today at noon. We’ve already pushed back our ride to the airport and lunch has been scrapped. I called my agent in a panic. I thought it was my Mom’s wifi, but it’s never been slow before. I didn’t realize that updating iMovie or uploading a 2 minute video file would overwhelm the system. My agent said “don’t you have mobile hotspot on your phone?” I wasn’t sure what she meant. I said I didn’t know. I begged for an extension. She said I had until midnight. I told her I would be home by 6:00pm and once back in my place everything should go much faster. Crisis averted, right?
Now we’re zooming up I75 toward the Sarasota International Airport and it suddenly dawns on me what a mobile hotspot is and where I’ve seen it before. I’ve seen it on my home screen! So I tap tap tap and suddenly I AM the internet, right there in the car. So the Google Drive links, which were being held in satellite limbo, fly to my agent at the speed of light. Now she has the raw footage. Now I’m updating iMovie in seconds. So I’m now starting to edit the audition footage, while in the car! I’m going to get the audition in before the original deadline!! While I’m editing I get an email from my agent. “I’ve sent the footage to casting.” “Did you edit it?” “No.” So great. What casting gets starts with shaky footage of my Mom going “ (cough, cough) stand a little closer to the window”. And me going “just get from my head to my feet. Can you see my feet?” And her going “wipe your nose”.
Perhaps not surprisingly that particular hit Netflix show took a pass on my audition. And all I could think was ‘this was the biggest break I’ve gotten so far and very little went right’. But then I got a shock. Two months later I was invited to audition for another character on the same show. This time I was in the city so I could go in person. The script came. I rehearsed. I rehearsed it more than one way. I tried to stay flexible. I took it very seriously. I showed up at the casting office and sat in the waiting area alone. Just then, my agent emailed saying that she was just told that they want me to do the scene in a Southern accent. She didn’t say an Alabama accent, or a Texas accent, or a North Carolina accent (none of which I know btw). No. A Southern accent. So I begin typing my response and in mid-sentence I hear “Hi Tony! Are you ready?” “Yep!” I jump up and follow casting down a long hallway. I’m thinking how funny this is that I haven’t rehearsed this in a Southern accent and now I have to do it that way, on the fly. Casting says “they want it in a Georgia accent, but no big deal if you can’t do it.”. Well lucky me. That’s the only accent I’ve practiced, and done before on TV. This hit Netflix show took a pass on my second audition.
Two weeks later I was invited to audition for a third character on same Netflix show. And I go in. And everything goes very well. And now casting is acting friendly because they’ve seen me twice before. And the show takes a pass on my third audition.
But overall it’s been wonderful and, in retrospect, hysterical. So keep moving forward. The breaks will come as long as you’re in the game.