But enough about the weather. Back to the news desk.
After all, the reason for this trip was to try and find work so…let’s talk about work. Because, surprisingly, there’s something to discuss.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Sara and I are avid listeners of the Sunday Puzzle on NPR. In case you are unaware, New York Times puzzle editor- the avuncular and charming Will Shortz- appears on Weekend Edition Sunday at about 9:40 Chicago time every week and plays a brainteaser game with a listener. Then he presents a weekly challenge at the end of his segment for folks to try and solve off-air.
The listener who gets to play with Will in any given week is randomly chosen from the people who managed to solve the weekly challenge from the previous week. So, what happens is: you hear the weekly puzzle, you figure it out, you email it in and…who knows? Maybe you’ll be chosen to be on the show with Will on Sunday morning. But the odds are pretty steep, as you can imagine.
Because of this, one of the more frustrating things to hear is when the listener chosen to play that Sunday turns out to be someone who has never made a submission before until that week. I mean, there are people who have been sending in their entries for years, and along comes some smartass who makes one entry and- boom!- they’re on the show with Will.
You kinda hate that guy, you know?
Well, I got a teeny, tiny taste of that kind of good fortune this week. Just a taste, mind you. But it was awfully good.
Here’s the scoop:
First, as has been chronicled in earlier posts, there are more than a few ways to look for work in Los Angeles if you are tenacious or, in my case, just plain lucky.
For example, even if you don’t have an agent, you can register for a thing called Casting Networks. If you do this, you will get regular alerts when the folks who are looking for talent inform Casting Networks that they are in the market for someone who suits a particular age.
By the way, that is the ONLY criteria they use to alert you to a casting opportunity. Your age. Not your height, weight, look, temperament, sex appeal or cheekbone prominence. Just your age.
So if they’re looking for a giant, fat, scary, slovenly (yet super-sexy) guy with prominent cheekbones who, by the way, just so happens to be between 45 and 55 and has a SAG card in his pocket, guess what? I’m going to get an alert that I might be right for that role.
Which is fine by me. Better to cast a wide net, in my opinion. My cheekbones aren’t so lacking are they?
So every day, sometimes more than once a day, I am alerted by Casting Networks that there is a role that might be in my wheelhouse. If I happen to agree, I will, in turn, shoot them a submission, letting them know that I am available and interested.
And that is that.
Because, generally, that is where it all ends. Generally.
Except, in my case, I got an audition. Right off the bat. For a film. A union film. At a legit casting agency. In North Hollywood. No kidding.
So off I toddled to audition for the role.
It was fun. It was actually more than fun- it was immensely gratifying to have the chance to act in front of the camera two days after touching down in Los Angeles. My first West coast audition. Just like that.
How did I feel afterwards? Fine. Just like almost every other on-camera audition I’ve ever gone to. Whether it was good or bad was hardly the point. It was just nice to be seen.
[SIDE NOTE: Honestly, those of us who do this for a living will tell you- you almost never know if your audition went well or if you, conversely, really stank up the place. In fact, most of the time that you feel great,you never hear from them again and, of course, when you feel like you left behind a giant turd…that’s when you get the job. Ask anyone.]
It wasn’t until afterwards- when I sat down for a drink last night with a Chicago buddy who now lives here in L.A.- that I was told that I had actually performed the Los Angeles equivalent of being chosen for the Sunday Puzzle after submitting one entry.
“Shit, Theis,” he told me. “I’ve been here two years and haven’t
auditioned for a goddamn movie yet. How’d you do that on your second day here?”
Here’s my answer: Dumb luck. I made a submission. I was chosen to audition. But I have no earthly idea why.
That said, I’m hardly stupid enough to question my good fortune. It is the foolish lottery winner who demands to know why the numbers went his way.
Besides, I didn’t get booked. It was an audition. Nothing more. I’ve been to a lot of auditions. Truly, in the grand scheme of things, it is not a big deal. At all.
Except, for me…it kinda was. My first week here and, somehow or other, I managed to dip my toe- ever so briefly- into the industry in Los Angeles.
And guess what?
The water’s fine.