Episode VII Audition Recap
So what actually went on at the auditions? I’ve been asked that a lot and here is my recap! By now you have probably seen the video of the auditions in Troy, Michigan on November 17, 2013. (If not, go check it out!) You can see in the video that despite the news stating there were around 2000 people there, the number was likely far, far higher than that. I estimated over 3000, possibly closer to 4000 people total, though there seemed to be a lot of parents as well.
First, let me explain something about the weather. It was cold, it was rainy, it was windy and it was miserable. Still, we got through it!
At last minute, everyone I had originally planned to go with decided not to go, mostly because of the weather but also because of other things that came up. Still, I was not going to be deterred! I had waited for this chance since I was six. Yeah, it wasn’t a real audition. Yeah, it was going to go nowhere. BUT it was important to me to say that at least I tried. So I got up early, got ready and went.
I hadn’t really decided on a set time where I wanted to arrive. I had heard so many mixed stories about turnout for the open calls in other states that all I knew is that I wanted to be in line at least an hour, if not more, early. Someone said in St. Louis there were hardly any people there. The Chicago date was apparently off the hook as someone on my prop forum was explaining the situation there and YAY he got a callback! I had also spent a bit of time trying to decide on what to wear. Typically for any sort of audition, I tend to wear blue. For some reason it makes me feel better. But I also wanted to promote this website since I would be meeting the casting director herself. I had decided to buy a new long-sleeved blue t-shirt and ironed on PUTMEINSTARWARS.COM on the front. It was great, until I was trying to figure out if I got something on the shirt or not and tapped the edge of the iron onto the iron-on that I had just applied to the shirt and ended up ruining it by melting the corner. Yes, I know. I AM that awesome.
So I compromised and got out my button maker from having made birthday pins for a party years ago and made a pin with the website URL on it. You can see me pointing out the pin in the video. The morning of, I got up, got ready, stuck a flower in my hair because I am that bit of a dork and then it was off to Troy! I left the house around 7:30 AM, stopped to get water because I forgot to bring some (and ended up getting a Voss water, which is what they had but also made me think of Marc Forster since that’s all he drinks, which also reminded me of him telling my sister how funny I am at improv – yeah, I’m that big of a dork that I find myself thinking back to making an idiot of myself in front of people and them thinking it’s hilarious), got to the auditions a couple of minutes after 9 AM. There was already a line!
I got in line, made friends with the people who got in line behind me (as seen in the picture!). I’m really happy I got in line with them and not with the group about ten people behind us, but more on that later. I just want to give a little shout out to Erik, Emma and Amy!
After an hour and some change of waiting outside in the cold, the rain and the wind, we were finally moving! It took a bit longer, but we eventually got up to the doors, at which point they told us that we couldn’t take any bags, umbrellas, sleeping bags, backpacks, chairs, etc. I just had my small bag which was fine, but I didn’t want to put a sopping wet umbrella in my bag with my headshot and resume, so I dropped it in my car and hightailed it back to the line.
Once inside, they led us to a ballroom. The ballroom was in three sections, giving it two aisles. We ended up almost smack dab in the middle of the ballroom. Each ‘section’ had 200 seats, so the ballroom held 600 people. We sat there as people were shuffled inside and it was around 11:00 AM when it started to actually fill all the way up. We had been sitting there for about half an hour with the last section just over halfway full.
As we sat there waiting to get started, we at some of our snacks that we had smuggled in. I brought one of my Sunbutter and Cracker GoPicnic lunches and I was glad I did. I hadn’t eaten anything prior and between the weather and my lack of sleep the night before, I knew I was already heading toward dangerous territory for a migraine. I had by that point ticked off three of my main five triggers (weather, not sleeping enough and hunger for an extended period) so I was realizing I should do whatever I can to ease the potential of a migraine, even though my stomach was all butterflies and knots from being so excited. Remember, I had waited since I was SIX to be able to say I actually got to meet the casting director for a Star Wars movie at an audition. Even if the audition was just an open call. So I ate my lunch and drank my Voss water and tried to think non-headache thoughts.
At one point Amy and I ran to the restroom and saw that the ballroom had filled up, complete with people standing in the back, the line was down the hallway and people were saying that it was around the building outside. Apparently we got inside just as people started really arriving en masse. I also made the mistake of looking in a mirror while in the bathroom. My makeup was all worn off, my hair was a mess from the wind and rain earlier and I couldn’t stop smiling like a dork. I was super excited. I didn’t really care too much about my makeup or hair, even though I really should. I mean I once shot a film with super close ups of my face and I had forgotten to put on any make up at all, so I’m pretty sure I make the worst actress ever. You’d think being best friends with Heather would have upped my girlishness or something. Maybe she’s still working on it. I did some quickie touchup stuff that involved a dash of powder, some lipgloss and shaking my head really hard to see if my hair would get any body to it (spoiler: it didn’t. It just looked like I had some sort of seizure). I also realized how horrible the lighting was. I looked dingy and grey and washed out.
We also got to listen to the theater guys in the seats directly behind us dishing on their classmates, the director of the show they were doing for school and some girl named Courtney that they all loved, hated, idolized and feared. Their entire lives seemed to revolve around Courtney. Apparently Courtney had the lead in the play but she had to work so never went to rehearsals the nights before opening night and the director was all ‘whatevz’ about it and they both hated her for getting away with it and applauded the compassion of the director. I want to meet Courtney now just to see if my first reaction would be to grovel at her feet or slap her.
A bit before 11:30, the casting director and her staff came in, then a minute later the Muppet Troopers came running in. They were hilarious and gave us a much needed boost of energy since some of us had already been there for hours and were slowing drooping. Seriously, it was kind of exhausting standing in line, then sitting in a ballroom waiting. Around 11:30, the casting director announced that they were going to get started a little early. YAY! She said that they were hoping to get through everyone as fast as possible because the weather was going to take a turn for the worse in a few hours. BOO!
They started off with a bit of an announcement saying that yes, they were looking for two main roles, but more importantly they were also gauging the market to see where they can pull from for further casting needs. Mostly, just to see if Detroit was a worthy spot from which to take submissions. They took guys in one line, girls in another. It became apparent early on that the guys outnumbered the girls about 5:1. Eventually it was our turn to get into line. Amy, Emma and I got into the much (much) shorter line for girls and poor Erik was stuck way in the long line, far away from us. Just as I thought, it went like this: Walk up to casting director, smile, introduce yourself and hand over your headshot, she flips it over to scan your resume (and in my case mentioned that it was good it had my representation AND my direct contact on it, since I was not coming through either of my agents, she also commented on my union status and my green screen experience), she says thanks and that’s it. I talked to her for maybe 90 seconds total. She did briefly comment on the number of union people so far in Detroit. She did not mention my pin that I made, which made me sad. Oh well, it is also listed on my resume and she said that they WERE looking at all the resumes that were being collected. So who knows!
If you look at the picture with the Muppet Troopers, you’ll see that there are two doors in the back, one on each side of the table. Those are the doors we walked out, since they were filling the seats in behind us as we stood up to get into line. The ballroom was never empty, they just kept putting people into seats. I walked out and looked over and saw two guys and a camera. Wait… I… I KNOW THOSE GUYS. Sure enough, it was my friend Toaden who was filming for his Youtube channel. Of course I had to go say hello! I went over and talked to them for a few minutes and then Toaden asked if I could help out a bit by doing a little gag where I come in and steal the mic from him. Now I know 90% of what gets filmed never makes it in, so I figure sure. I looked like hell, but I’d do it. I ended up doing some interviews after that and some were hilarious. It’s the video I mentioned earlier and you can also see it here:
After I finished with all that, I realized that I was still kinda hungry. By now it was closing in on like 3 PM and my head was still caught in a vice. I took off to The Panini Press in Berkeley for a delicious gluten free panini. If you ever find yourself in the vicinity of Woodward and 12 Mile, go there. It’s amazing. They do mostly regular paninis but they have separate equipment and cutting stuff and everything for the gluten free and it is delicious. The woman who owns the place is really nice and we chatted about the Star Wars casting call. Then it was back on the road to fight the wind that had picked up even more. I ended up having to get off 696 because that expressway is a wind tunnel on the best of days and during the wind storm, I could barely keep the Nerdmobile in one lane. (Yes, for those who don’t know, my car has been nicknamed the Nerdmobile. It is a Honda Element with nerd-themed and roller derby-themed stickers on the back. Don’t judge me.)
I did make it home in one piece and thankfully that night we only lost power for about ten minutes. I know people who lost power and didn’t get it back for days. Horrible weather! I did end up getting a pretty bad headache the next day but treated myself to a lunchtime chair massage at the mall across from work and the girl spent the entire time working on my neck muscles because they were like rocks.
I guess I know to ask for an on-set masseuse as part of my contract when I’m in Star Wars. 🙂