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Dan Murphy

The Total Man Package: PSA Auditions With A Romulan?
by Dan Murphy

August 2003

Below is an excerpt from the Casting Call email. Let's see if you can find any tips as to why I may not have been right for the part:

"Youthful Looking Male Adult for PSA" (and extras, too)
The part calls for a "youthful, fresh-faced male to play the role of a math teacher who could pass as a high school student." (POSSIBLE CLUE FOLKS).

"This is for a public service announcement intended to encourage college bound high schoolers to enter a math or science teaching career. Four or five teenage extras are also needed. It's a PSA -- the pay is MODEST"...

Public Service Announcements are noble advertisement by nature and those involved before and behind the camera are asked to make sacrifices, namely in the area of pay (it's a cheap production!) The speaking roles will pay a whopping $35 and the extra work is a freebie.

So, I sent an email with headshots and resume attached expressing my interest.I thought I might have a chance as a Background Actor. I was surprised when I received an email back from Mark Gonzalez, the Director, saying he would like me to read for the Teacher role.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Dan, you're Ripped and Youthful Looking and could pass for a 25 year old with a Slightly Receding Hairline (it's Slight DAMN IT! I'm in the Denial Stage, remember!) any day of the week, but me playing a Fresh-Faced Male Teacher that could pass as a Student? This borders on Total UNBELIEVABILITY!

Now wait just a minute. There could be a valid Reason for their Insanity. Maybe they were going for a 90210-ish style PSA with Actors in their Mid to Late 20s playing high school kids. By the way, if I was 27 years old in high school, had millions of dollars and lived on my own like Luke Perry, I would have been The Coolest Guy In High School as well. They might have also been going for a Tom Hanks in "Big" approach. You never know until you go.

When I showed up at the audition location at Nueva Onda (restaurant near the corner of Oltorf and South Congress), I was surprised to see a friend, Kirk Hunter - the "KIRKOMATIC" - there. He's a lot of fun and has been doing film stuff for years. His AustinActors.net description describes him best: Information Resource, Quite the Character, Writer, Filmmaker, You Name It. Below are some of Kirk's Links:

http://KirkOMatic.tripod.com/
http://us.imdb.com/Name?Hunter,+Kirk+(I)
http://www.austinactors.net/
http://www.spiderbrace.com/

Kirk Hunter is also the one who helped me get this column by suggesting I send my stuff to AustinActors.net. So, take your complaints up with him. Kirk did some sound on the PSAs and helped with casting.

After saying hi to Kirk I asked Mark if he was sure that he wanted me to read for the young teacher part and he said he was. While waiting to read my part, I killed some time by intimidating the six or seven other guys waiting around to audition. I was like Schwarzenegger in PUMPING IRON. I told these young Punks, "You might as well hit the bricks, guys. You just don't stand a chance for this role with me auditioning. I'm not auditioning for the Principal of the school either!" Then, those PUNKS actually had the gall to laugh.

Just when my sense of having a chance could not have gotten worse, the ROMULAN showed up. The Romulan is David Dacy, a casual friend I met at another casting call for Prosthetic Actors. David played a Romulan extra in the Last Star Trek movie, NEMESIS. David claims it's not his fault that the movie sucked. David also got the Prosthetic Actor Part. Now here he was at this audition showing up to steal my THUNDER! He's turning into my PERSONAL AUDITIONING NEMESIS! I will put an end to his Conniving Romulan Ways!

No, I won't whine to the Texas Film Commission about not using locals in their productions and filling those roles with extraterrestrials (Romulans). I'm taking this up with a higher authority. If this Romulan shows up at one more of my auditions, whether he steals my part or not, I will inform the FEDERATION OF PLANETS' HIGH COMMAND!

First off, he's in violation of the Neutral Zone Treaty between the Federation and the Romulan Empire. His mere presence on the planet proves this. I'm sure he's probably breaking the Prime Direct in some way as well. I'll leave that one to the legal scholars.

Don't ask me to do something about the Klingons either. The Klingons are now in alliance with the Federation. We're just going to have to get used to them at auditions. Please, please, please get up to speed on your Star Trek lore, okay?

When I got called out to the patio of the restaurant to audition, Mark, the Director, had me read through the Teacher part three times with a young girl who looked to be around 15 years old. They were filming the auditions. Mark gave some light direction each time and was mainly concerned with speed. He wanted us to get through the lines as quickly as possible. This made sense after I realized it was only a 30-second spot.

Now, for the ULTIMATE SHOCKER! DU'NIT DAAAAAAA! Mark asked me to read for the other PSA Spot being shot for the same group with a similar theme of getting kids into teaching. This time I was reading the lines of a Teenage Boy with the same Teenage Girl. I was completely unprepared for this. I thought for sure they wouldn't want me for this part so I never even looked at the lines. DAMN MY YOUTHFUL APPEARANCE! I'm betting Mark was interested in using this girl in the PSA and wanted to see how well she read with other people.

News Flash: I didn't get either part, but I was Cool with it. I thought I did okay and it was good experience/practice. I think it's always good to audition if possible, not only for the experience but for the networking and exposure. The people auditioning you might have other projects they are working on now or in the future they can use you on.

Guess what? My beliefs were proven correct. I received a nice email from Mark. Here's what it said:

"Dan, thanks a whole lot for coming out and auditioning for the PSA last weekend. And while I was impressed with your reading and acting talent [no fooling,] I've cast other folks for the parts. Casting's a funny thing because an intangible so often plays into the selection, and not being "chosen" for a part hardly means one isn't talented. The players I've chosen simply felt just a little better for the part. I've got your information on file and I assure you I will keep you in mind for future parts.

"Dan, I'm probably shooting a feature in the fall and I've got a part or two that I've love for you to read for. Kirk knows all about it. I'll be in touch then. And that AustinActors.net is a great site, I'm impressed! You've got the talent man, I'll find a role for you, yet!

"All my best, Mark"

Moreover, auditioning was not only a good experience and networking for future possible work, but I also got an important reminder not to be so hung up on my appearance, age, look, etc.

Of course, you Jabronies won't take my word for it. Therefore, read once again what a Professional like Mark Gonzalez thinks below:

"Dan, this may or may not be of interest to you, but when I go into a casting session, I'm there to primarily evaluate acting talent, whether folks can take direction, and general professionalism. The actual "look" of a part, for me, is somewhere down the line. My advice to actors is yeah, be yourself, but be prepared and attentive."

So, EAT IT! I told you I'm not really Mad. I learned some valuable things by auditioning.

Okay, Damn IT! I admit it! I'm REALLY PISSED! I NEEDED THE $35!

Talk to you next month. TAKE CARE!

THE TOTAL MAN PACKAGE! WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dan Murphy
Columnist/Actor and Sudo-Egomaniac

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