I read online Friday morning about a casting call for extras taking place not far from home for a movie with the working title of “First Snow.” Although the name itself made me shiver and almost crawl back under the warm blankets, I decided that it might be interesting enough to warrant checking out.
Before hopping into the shower, I quickly printed off a self-portrait headshot and attached it to a current copy of my resume. I dressed for the type of role that I would have liked to been cast if chosen: a two-tone green thermal underwear shirt beneath a heavy pine green flannel, blue jeans, and my Redwing hiking boots.
The casting was being conducted by the Phoenix Agency in the Talent Street offices at 8809 Washington Street NE. Their studio is located in a decidedly industrial section near the northern edge of the city. There are no windows to speak of in the offices, but if the employees step out into the west parking lot they can enjoy a commanding view of the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Park and the Rio Grande River valley where Alameda is situated. Inactive volcanoes dot the west mesa and snow-capped Mount Taylor is clearly visible some 50 miles to the west.
I arrived at the studio right around 11:00 am, a good hour after they had opened for auditions. Overall, the process was relatively unorganized. They had plenty of waiting space available in the hallways outside the suite, but no one from the company present to direct new arrivals into the main office where you had to sign in and pick up a numbered blue card on which you record your vital information. I received card numbered 170. I would think that 170 people showing up in the first hour to apply to be an extra in a movie is a decent turn out.
Probably it goes without saying (but I will anyway) that people watching was second to none! I entertained myself by observing the reactions of people when they first arrived and attempted to make some sort of sense of the scene. I was greatly amused by the people who eventually offered instructions to the new folks on what they needed to do to begin the process. These folks are clearly nicer than me, and should receive some sort of civic award for their efforts.
By noon, the crowd of applicants had swelled to over 270 people. Old folks, middle-aged people and youngsters of all imaginable races, and a representative sampling of all three sexes were present. There seemed to be a comparatively large number of mothers with young children present- every one of which reminded me of that unfortunate Ramsey kid from Colorado. Possibly I would understand parents trying to get their kids a role in a movie along the lines of ‘Seabiscuit” or “The Goonies,” but “First Snow?” What on earth could be going through their minds? From the limited information I’ve found online, the plot for “First Snow” appears to be a man’s life going down the tubes after a psychic predicts that he is going to die. The role of the man is going to be performed by Guy Pearce. And that’s really all I know about the film.
Some people in the crowd passed the time by reading cheesy novels, while others took advantage of the down time to further embellish their resumes. The majority of the rest seemed quite content to spend the entire time stamping their feet and complaining about how long they were being made to suffer. I suppose the waiting process does seem overwhelming to lots of people, especially any first timers. However, having worked as a extra for Suspect Zero and 21 Grams, I realized that this exercise was nothing compared to the amount of standing I’d be doing if I got selected out of the herd.
Interestingly, a good number of people present appeared to be represented by agents. I’m not sure what all you get with an agent other than an overpriced headshot, but it was obvious that some people had connections and were able to leap to the top of the waiting list immediately upon arrival. Possibly they had done work for this Phoenix Agency in the past or something. Certainly I noticed some familiar faces from the previous casting calls I had attended.
Without a doubt, the most interesting person there was a grouchy old cowboy (applicant no. 194) wearing a gold belt buckle the size of Laguna. At one point he lit up a Winston in the hallway, and then deflected the numerous scowls fired in his direction by muttering, “I don’t see any no smoking signs.” After adjusting his brown sweat-stained cowboy hat, the man resumed his previous activity of staring at high school girls.
My name was called around 1:00 pm, at which point I was led to a hallway inside the main office and instructed to sit in the last of some eight or nine office chairs. Ahhh…. finally some structure and order amidst all the chaos! One by one people at the far end of the line were called into an office, while the rest of us played musical chairs to the sound of silence. Everyone’s spirits in this hallway were definitely elevated as it became obvious that the wait was nearing an end.
Eventually I met with the casting agent. She was a very nice woman who showed no sign of stress even though she still had to interview hundreds of more people before she could stick a fork in the day. She indicated that she "liked my look," and was going to recommend using me in “the pub scene” (scheduled to be filmed February 22nd) pending approval by the director.
Be sure to tune in next week for further adventures in the New Mexican film industry.