Don Krejsek – the audition

Don has been working as an actor on a movie for the last five months. When that wrapped last week, we were on the hunt for the next acting gig.

We found a great project and put together a submission. And he was invited to make a video audition.

Now…it was late Friday when the notification came through. Deadline is 4pm Monday.

And we have to create this whole self-tape video audition from scratch.

If it was a matter of getting the sides, recording the vid on a phone, and uploading, that would be easy. But in this case, he had to choose a character, perform its sides, put together two improvs, edit all the segments into one vid, and then upload. That is gonna take some time.

Part of our equipment is at his house. Part of the equipment is at my house. He came by Saturday morning to pick up equipment, in case he got enough of the planning done in order to work Saturday night.

On the last movie he worked for, they shaved his moustache. I am like—can we go take some quick pics. Out the door we go. And the memory card wasn’t in the camera. I had less than 30 minutes before I had to leave for work. Needless to say…rushed photography didn’t give me too many good pics. But we got the one below.

Don mentioned trying to film at a bar that one of our friends owns. But I kinda freaked out. We are on such a tight deadline. And all the computer equipment is at my house, and who knows how this will go or what we will need. I said I wanted to work at my house. Could we meet 10am Sunday? He said that was fine.

All I can think about is – the limitations of my house. Small rooms. Bad lighting. Angles. Once we get vids, how much batch conversion am I gonna have to do? What output settings will work for the finished upload?

Don and I had a phone conversation somewhere in the middle of this rushed madness, and I asked what his plans were? He was working on the issues of…what character(s) to audition for? What monologue? How to play the monologue/set it up/perform it/sell it/nail that punchline.

And me…being on the technical side of this equation – since I am only the director of photography and editor…totally forgot what it is to prepare an acting performance.

Don has to do ALLLLLL the thinking on this one. He has to pick his improv monologues, write the lines, set the timing, get the props, rehearse it, revise it, ACT IT…and all in less than 48 hours.

I am exhausted even thinking about doing that amount of work in such a short turnaround.

5:30 am Sunday. I am wide awake, still computing angles, worrying about lighting, worrying about the computer settings for my responsibilities on this gig.

7:45 am Sunday. The power goes out!


Now what?

We are on a deadline. Hopefully the power will come on soon. The wind is low. Could we possibly compensate by filming outdoors? At least I won’t have to worry about the lighting in my house!

So, I text Don, who texts back: “Crap!”

He gathers equipment and comes to my house.

And…luck was on our side…the power came back on before 10.

I had set up my music room to use as a possible studio. I go to hunting for my lighting rig. Can’t find it. I don’t remember seeing it for awhile. Don is already on his way. When he gets here, I ask if he happens to have our lighting rig at his place. Oh yeah…he does. Too late now!

I ask what is the plan?!?!?!

Don in thinking mode

He likes to joke with me. There is a place when you are working at the top of your highest level of mental function – concentration is complete. And he can say words to me – things that have nothing to do with the project at hand – and I have no room for any outside distractions. He would say something like, “A bomb could go off next to Amanda, and she wouldn’t notice.”

But this time, the tables were turned. I was setting up camera and microphone and adjusting settings. And I said something to him, and he was all…”Shut up and let me think!” I had to chuckle.

We ended up turning my living room into a pseudo pub!

And it is showtime!

Every single take, he is a different character. He played six, count ’em, SIX characters in this audition. I have watched this man act in real life for the last couple of decades. He will tell a story and “become” that person in the story. Then he can switch it off, and go to a different tangent.

His acting talent floors me.

And here we are – doing this on camera – trying to get him a role in someone else’s movie. With less than 48 hours notice, he created six characters, figured out their motivations, speech patterns, timing, beats, and HE SOLD THEM ALL!

Easygoing pub guy
Military general

Then it is time to do my work.

I get the footage into the computer and into the editing software. And I start putting it together. And I realize I misjudged the sound. The video was reasonably okay – considering our location constraints and limited time. And you have to make a bunch of technical decisions very quickly.

And I misjudged the sound. But you can still hear Don, and my mistake didn’t detract from his acting. I told him what I had done. (And I am pretty sure neither of us has the energy, nor internal fortitude to shoot this again.) We sure enough don’t have the time to work this another day. I ask him if he is okay with going ahead and using this footage, even with my sound mistake. And he said yes.

I edit as quickly as I can. At this point – when we know we are not going to shoot it again, I said that if he needed to leave, it was okay with me. I knew he had a ton of work to do in his personal job. (To the extent that I had asked, “Do you have time to do acting right now?” Short answer – yes he did.)

He stayed with me through the first render. Again, there are so many technical settings, and you try one thing, then try another.

I said I was going to tweak it and render it again.

Oh yeah…did I mention that we set this up on my day off? And I got called in to work at my day job Sunday evening? DP (cinematography) and editing takes ALL of my brain. When that day is done, my brain is done. And now I have to switch gears, switch modes, and switch personalities and go to my day job!??!?! Can we spell E-X-H-A-U-S-T-I-O-N?

Just what we needed. More reasons to rush. More opportunities to make mistakes!

I did the third render. Decided to use it.

Uploaded it.

Got the confirmation. Texted Don that it was done!

And we made it 23 hours ahead of deadline!

Now we play the waiting game…

Does he get the gig?

Stay tuned…

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