Last weekend I drove into San Francisco to attend a casting seminar taught by casting director Kim Hardin. Kim has 20 years of experience as a casting director and is known for films such as 2 Fast 2 Furious, Four Brothers, and the award-winning Indie film Hustle & Flow.
The class was geared toward actors, but directors and producers were also invited to attend. It didn’t surprise me that we were greatly outnumbered by the actors.
Even though it is still very early in the development process and we don’t know what, if any, other roles we’ll be needing to fill, this was a great opportunity to learn a little about the casting process ahead of time from someone who has been doing it for a long time. It also gave me a great excuse to go into the city on a beautiful day. I was delighted to find out that the hotel where the seminar was held was next to the cable car route.
The fun part of the class was the “cold read” (auditions performed without memorizing the script) audition practice at the end. Kim gave all the actors “sides” (a portion of a script to be read at an audition) and sent them out into the hotel hallway to practice for a bit. Some actors were teamed with another actor, and some were sent out by themselves because they would be doing their scene with Kim herself.
After a short practice period, Kim called everyone back into the room. It was fascinating to watch their performances. Some were obvious beginners, while others had much more experience under their belt. Nerves got to some of them and the sometimes long periods of silence betrayed the fact that they forgot their lines. In an effort to be understated, some gave performances that could best be described as bland, while others went too far the other way with their over-the-top performances.
As I-Man fans, we often brag about the incredible chemistry of our cast so, of course, I closely watched the actors who were paired up in teams. One couple really caught my attention. They came across as though they had known each other for years. The chemistry was there and it was very obvious. Others just weren’t clicking.
During the instruction part of the class there was one young man, looked to be in his teens, that kept asking questions about things that Kim had already covered just minutes before. It was apparent that he wasn’t paying attention, but Kim was very patient and answered all his questions. I was curious how he would do. When his turn came, he read opposite Kim. And when I say read, I mean, literally, read. He didn’t act the part at all, he just read it. I’ve got to give him kudos for having the courage to do the practice audition. He must have been incredibly nervous. He has a marketable look, but he definitely needs training.
An older gentleman, who used to do a lot of theatre work and was just getting back into acting after a long stretch off, absolutely nailed the part of a pastor. He was quite convincing.
Kim gave some of the same sides to more than one actor in order to give us the opportunity to see how different actors interpret the same scenes differently. It was fascinating to watch each actor bringing something different to their roles.
After attending this class, I have to say that I have a renewed respect for actors and what they do for a living. The majority of us only do a small number of job interviews in our lifetime before settling into our respective jobs for at least several years. But can you imagine spending most of your career going to job interviews (which is basically what an audition is) all the time? Well, the majority of actors do exactly that. Getting an acting job takes a special kind of fortitude that, dare I say, the majority of earthlings wouldn’t want to deal with.
I tip my hat to actors everywhere who are chasing and living their dreams.