I love being an extra on film sets. When I try to pin down exactly why I love being an extra, I find that the reasons refuse to define themselves in a linear list. I enjoy having a “bird’s eye” view of the production process, the great people I meet, and the sense of common purpose shared by cast and crew. Because my full-time job is filled with tasks that will not show any type of defined outcome for years (if ever), it is nice knowing that putting in hours on set now will result in something to watch at an appointed time. Here is me in a “jazz club” scene for Waking Eloise, an MFA thesis film I know I’ll get to see in August. Hooray, a defined outcome! (And note the look on my face because it applies later on in this blog.)
I have been auditioning at the FSU Film School twice a year for about five years now. Until today, I chose one of the “sides” provided by the film school for each audition. With these sides, one of the FSU Film students reads a part and I read the other while being filmed. After the first reading, one of the students gives direction about how to read the part differently, and I read it again. This time I did a monologue that I had chosen; doing so gave me the opportunity to memorize the part in advance. I have found that trying to read material I am not that familiar with while also trying to emote and make eye contact with the other “actor”/the camera is disconcerting.
As much as I love being an extra, I discovered when I had an opportunity to have a speaking part in an FSU Film (Water Wings), that I love that too, and that the experience rocked my “I -want-to-express-myself-in-addition-to-being-a-mom-of-two-kids-with-a-full-time-job” mindset out of dormancy. (Read about it here.) When I prepared for Water Wings, my role was a monologue with several accusatory questions in a row: “Why did you do this? Why did you need to hurt me? What was so wrong? What couldn’t you take?, etc.” When I practiced this at home, I spoke them as I read them, with pauses in between each question. As it turns out, the Director wanted more of a rapid fire delivery. Check.
It was in giving me feedback about today’s first monologue delivery that Aaron Nix summarized in four words an improvement I need to make in my acting (foreshadowed by Shane Spiegel’s direction in Water Wings) that I also want to make in my running (and in my life).