Making a Reel

I asked my friend Scott who went to APU with me if he could make a reel from all the footage that I have been in recently. As we sat last week and began to cut the pieces together we realized that I did not have a solid two minute scene that could be used as the foundation for my reel. As we discussed, the hard thing about being an actor is that you leave so much to other people. You don’t choose what roles you are cast in and you do not choose how you will be edited on film. That is when we decided that we needed to shoot our own scene.

Scott said he had some original scenes we could pick from and he could direct. So I was going to find a location and an actress and we would meet after Christmas and plan to shoot one day before New Years. We met up the 29th and decided to shoot on the 30th. Talk about last minute. I knew this was going to be a rush, but in the back of my end I heard the phrase if you want something done you need to do it yourself. I had placed a breakdown in Actor’s Access the Friday before and I had secured some actress to audition on the 29th. Our plan was to meet before the audition, pick the scene, audition the actresses, and shoot the next day. I had secured a location to shoot right before our meeting. We were to use the house of our good friends Brad and Missy. There were still gone in Kentucky for a couple more days and we could have the house to ourselves. All this without even reading the scene we were going to do. Knowing that our time was limited I thought it better to secure a location and then adapt any scene we had to fit the setting of a house.

With that done I came into the meeting feeling pretty good that Scott had found a good scene to shoot. Scott had a scene that he had originally written with a mutual friend named Daniel. It was a fifteen page scene of two strangers meeting in a bar. The idea that the scene was set in a bar was pretty crucial and we could not find any pages that would fit. The only other scene Scott had was from a short that he had directed, where a man came up to a woman’s door asking her out on another date only to be rejected by her. It had fit our criteria of needing to be a male/female scene and it being set at a house. The only two problems were that it was supposed to be at the front door (it was raining on and off all that week) and that I was not too impressed with the scene. By this time it was 1:30pm and our first audition was set for 3pm. As we had a break between some of our auditions we decided to audition with the scene we had and then write a new scene during the brak that we would shoot the next day.

The first few auditions went well and then we sat down in front of Starbucks in Sierra Madre as I typed away at a scene. By this time Aaron had joined us. One cup of joe, discussions on everything from musicians crashing in on where Aaron works as a secretary at a record label to the guy that is on “A Might Wind” that also does voices for the Simpsons, and three rewrites later we had a scene about Matthew and Sarah. Matthew is a business consultant who just returned from a bad week of work trying to get an Australian company of out bankrupcy. He has to quickly wash up and change as he is going away with Sarah to meet her parents for the first time. Not being a writer I was not sure about my work, but with Scott and Aaron’s help they assured me that it would work. We just had enough time to get back to the church where we were holding the auditions and print some copies before our next round of auditions.

The clock hit 7:30pm and we had one more audition to go. We had seen some actresses that could work, but none that we were sure about. Tracy Wilcox was our last actress and nailed it with her first read. Customary with all the actresses Scott gave some direction and had Tracy read it again, but we both knew after the first read that she was the one. She confirmed she was available all the next day and we had are talent lined up. Next was the crew. Daniel confirmed that he available the next day to grip and do various other jobs, but we still wanted a director of photography to assist Scott with lights and to run the camera. We had left some messages before our second round of auditions, but it being last minute our hopes were not high. Deciding not to waste time we packed up the gear and headed over to the location to scout it out. By midnight we had blocked out the scene using a doll as a stand in for Tracy, and we were scheduled to arrive back at 9am to begin setting up. Unfortunately we had no D.P. as Jared had to work till 5pm and we could not push back the shoot.

It was 9:30pm by the time Scott, Daniel, and myself were all at the location. Scott and I got very little sleep as we both do not sleep well before a shoot. With us getting so much done the night before we remained on schedule and was set up by 10am when Tracy arrived. We sat around chatting for awhile letting Tracy get to know us and us getting to know her. We then introduced Tracy to the blocking and made adjustments as necessary. By 11:30am we all felt comfortable with the rehearsals and Tracy and I headed off to get Subway for everyone. During lunch Jared called saying he could make it there by 2pm, so we decided to wait till then before shooting. 2pm rolled around and Jared called saying he was still stuck at work so we decided to start without him. The bedroom we were shooting in had three large windows and the sun that was there in the morning was behind the clouds and looked like it would not come back out. So our day shoot looked like an early evening shoot. We decided to shoot the last part of the scene (us leaving the house) and Tracy’s part of the scene, as both occurred in front of windows, before it got dark. Thinks were gong well and Jared was able to make it by 3pm. Our original plan was to have us wrap by 5pm when it got dark, but that did not happen. We were wrapped closer to 7:30pm. But everyone was gracious, worked hard, and we had a great time. It was a long day and for myself I felt my acting dipping at times, but it was a great experience. I had a good feeling the next day seeing how much we got acomplished in so little time. It showed that things can happen if you really set your mind to it. Now with Scott’s editing skills we should have a nice scene for everyone’s reel.

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