Monday, July 24, 2006

Day Three: July 20, 2006

Off to pick a cast for 5 commercials. I can’t believe how hot it is in this place. Not Bucharest. That’s actually quite pleasant. It’s the studio. Stifling. And there are so many people. Every Tom, Dick and Ionescu in Bucharest showed up.

I need a grandfather for “Big Trouble.” We found a guy who looks like the spawn of Fyvush Finkel and Abe Vigoda. Perfect! The client will hate him. I need him to say, “Go ahead, wedgie me.” Someone spelled it out phonetically for them: Gou ehed, uedgi mi!! Hey, whatever works. He was so good I yelled, “That’s our Hitler!” Chances are this guy knew Hitler.

“Twister Moves” needs a lady to be a school principal. Some very good characters came in. One woman did a good job but she kept talking over and over. It’s a non-speaking part! Then she left. It turns out that she wanted to do the part her way, not the way Tom (director) wanted it done. Also, she had a lot of cats. That’s what we were told, anyway. That may be one of those lost in translation things.

A boy comes in wearing a Mickey Mouse t-shirt. Liz points out that it’s actually a Minnie Mouse t-shirt. She’s right: the kid is wearing a shirt that says “Minnie.” Poor kid.

12:00. Apparently, we’re 2 hours behind schedule. It may be partially our fault but it’s hard to stay on when we spend half the time getting the casting people to understand what we’re trying to say. It’s like they speak a different language here! As the day progresses, it’s getting more and more frustrating.

4:00 and we haven’t had lunch yet. We ordered it a long time ago. Actually, I think it’s here. Liz is fading fast. She has a headache from lack of food. And we’re all getting snippy. If I were really snippy, I’d question the reason for coming all the way out here. It doesn’t seem like the difficulty is worth it. Everything is so much slower because we have to translate stuff; there are no headshots……….what? Lunchtime!!!!!!! 4:55 pm!!!!

5:10: Done eating. I sucked down a lunch of beef and lamb kebab with garlic. Some hummus as well. It was definitely the food. I reread what I just wrote and it was a bit harsh. So now I’ve eaten and I feel better. So does Liz. But it’s so friggin hot in here. A few hours ago we asked for a fan. The lady said there was AC and used a remote to cool it down. But it only cooled down the other room…the one we’re not in.

Funny casting moment: Robert saw a guy with a great look. Short. Round, bald head. Could have been good for anything. But he didn’t show up for his callback. Who was this mystery guy? Robert couldn’t remember anything about him except his look. He had Topher looking all over the place. And he finally came through. So the guy is tracked down and told to come in. Robert was right: he looks great. A little like Bob Hoskins. Except Bob Hoskins can act. This guy? Not so much. Total buzz kill. Poor Robert.

7:10: It’s starting to get mean. Not at each other, but at the kids. Just like Toronto casting! Now I know why I’ll never let Aaron be an actor. I know too much of what goes on behind the camera. 10 kids just came in. It looks like we’re casting for the live version of the “It’s A Small World” show at Disney.

Fernandez the casting lady keeps telling us to hurry up. This is the same woman who ran out of here during lunch because she had to go breast-feed her kid. I have a hard time looking at her ever since that. Plus, if these Romanians could learn to speak English, we’d be done by now. We keep asking the people to do stuff and when they don’t, we’re told they’re not actors. I didn’t think asking someone to smile or act embarrassed or be energetic required years of acting experience.

Know what would be fastest? Instead of trying to get these people to understand exactly what we want them to do, why don’t we just show them? Have one of us go out there and say, “Do this.” Then they copy us. When I was in 11th grade, I was in a French class where I was really over my head. We read “The Little Prince” in French. Fine. But we also read Sartre’s “No Exit” in French. So first I had to translate the French into English. Then I had to figure out what the English meant. That’s kind of what casting here is like. We tell the casting lady what we want. She translates what she thinks we mean into Romanian. The “actors” translate that into action. What comes out is rarely what we wanted in the beginning. Like a bad game of Telephone.

8:00. We’re supposed to be done. Not even close. The people outside are getting pissed. And I don’t care. You want to be in a commercial? Then shaddap!!!!! Linste (leen shtay) as they say in Romania.

Liz just sneezed and everyone said, “Bless you.” She sneezed before and everyone said, “Bless you.” In fact, many people have sneezed throughout the day and others have said, “bless you.” I sneeze? Nothing. What the hell? Bunch of commies, all of ‘em.

8:45: Shoot me.

11:00. Well after 13 hours, we’re finally done. I’d like to introduce the concept of headshots to this place. We could have been finished hours ago but it took so long to scan through all the casting video to find the right faces. They don’t load them in by number or anything. No one was keeping a running tally of who came in when. So there was that. We spend another hour discussing and, yes, scanning through more video. Then the pizza we ordered came at around 1 or so. We were pretty hungry and hoped that the pizza wouldn’t come from some place like Pizza Hut or something. In retrospect, I would have preferred Pizza Hut. This stuff was just awful. Now I’ll pretty much eat anything without an eyeball. Strike that. I’ll pretty much eat anything. This was the worst. You know it has to be bad when it’s served with a side of sauce. It was so bad I only had 3 slices. That’s actually not a lot for me. They were small slices. Basically like personal pizza size.

Made it back to the hotel and Robert and I had a drink. He’s in heaven because there’s a menu filled with Skollar-style drinks. You know, lots of liquors, some fruit, and an umbrella if available. I had a bottle of Ursus. It’s a Romanian beer. Actually it’s a bad beer but as they say: “when in Romania…”

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