Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Leading to a twinkling future

In the almost two years that I have started working professionally I have not had it easy. After my honours year (for various singular reasons) I couldn’t get an agent. When emailing and calling yielded no results I signed a yearlong contract with a casting agency in January last year. I figured that it was better than nothing at all, and any experience would be good. A casting agency is very different from an agent, and although they were good to me I can’t earn a living from the occasional briefs they sent me. What I needed was an agent. An in November last year, a friend I had met on set graciously gave me the number of a friend of hers who is also a booking agent for a really good agency in Johannesburg.  

So I phoned him, and sent him my CV. I received a reply via email that they were interested in signing me, but it was problematic as I was still bound in contract to the casting agency. I informed him that I would be able to terminate the contract in January without hassle. He then told me to contact him in January once I had done this, and we would then be able to talk about me joining their agency. Thank heavens for mothers who make her overeager daughters call the agency before I terminated my contract. Because when I did call in the beginning of January voice mail and automated replies informed me that my contact was out of the country and that I should contact him again in February. So when February rolled around I called again. I was assured the head of the agency would look at my CV the following day and a decision would be made. So I called again the next day, and was told that my CV was being looked over at the very moment. I received an email moments later. After I had been following exact instructions I received correspondence that ran somewhat to the tune of:

“Unfortunately after speaking to the head of the agency it was confirmed that the position he wanted to place me in was filled. It’s a pity that we cannot keep open slots for so long.”

About a month after this communication a good friend of mine signed with the same agency.

So I started the whole dry canvassing and emailing thing again looking for an agent. I have many friends at agents, who I’m sure wouldn’t mind speaking to their agents for me, but a part of me at that stage still felt that somebody with my qualifications should get an agent without needing to ask friends for help. A resolve which I regretted after email upon email told me that they weren’t taking on actresses in my ‘category’. And it started taking its toll.

 So I stuck it out, focussing on my Masters. And I did have an incredible year, full of opportunities. But opportunities which I had to get all on my own, especially as I only did one job in January via the casting agent. So when October rolled around, the time at which most agents start bringing in new talent as the universities and colleges start closing I friend I was working with at the time who knew about my ‘agent situation’ and offered to speak to his agent for me. I sent my CV along, but as I learned earlier this year I could not rely on any one agency. So with new photographs I started phoning again. One of the agents I phoned was Leads Artists Agency. I was transferred from the general line to one of the agents in the company. He asked me a few questions, gave me his personal email address and asked if I had any footage, or youtube links to my work. I sent the links, my CV and photo, but had learned better than to expect anything. So when my phone rang the next day I was caught completely off guard.

I was told that they liked my CV, and that he also liked the sound of my voice. We made a date for me to go and see them at their offices. We had what I felt like was a good session. And by the end of the session I was told that if I still wanted to sign with them I needed to let them know within 2 – 3 weeks. And then, if they were still interested in me we could talk.

About two and a half weeks after I spoke to my Mom on the phone on a Thursday saying that I would phone Leads that Monday say that I would like to sign with them. The next morning I received an email from Leads…

And now its website official. Just when I thought the year was nearing its end for me the New Year is twinkling with the lure of possibilities.  

Monday, 2 December 2013

Animated Auditioning

"Never say I don't take you anywhere interesting" has become a favorite phrase of mine, and is fast becoming a joke between my ever patient boyfriend and myself. While shooting I have been to, shall I say interesting, locations: The streets of Joburg at night, I've driven through a ploughed field I was sure would brake the suspension on my car, a home google maps couldn't find and dusty back corners of the state theatre. For an audition, however, the strange location I found myself in in an industrial area of Edenvale was a first.

Via the wonders of social media I heard about an audition to do some pro-bono voice and body work so that a company could pitch for funding for an animation. I figured that it would be really good experience, even if it was for free. I emailed the contact person as to what I should prepare, and the location of the audition.  I was given the address, told just to pitch up and it promptly left my frontal lobe making room for more important matters.

The morning before the audition, I received an email reminder for the audition at 8 the next morning. I was then also told that I needed to prepare a minute monologue, from an animated film. Of course I was working in a theatre the whole day and of course I get told what to prep the day before. So after getting home after 9 I spent an hour googling "female monologue animated film/movie" and I found something I deemed reasonably appropriate. I memorized it...mostly...and checked via the ever faithful google where exactly I would be auditioning in the morning. Google came up with nothing. Nothing in the given area matched the street address I was given. After the third attempt I checked the first email. There had been a spelling mistake in the reminder. So I googled the correct address in an attempt to forage a path for myself for the morning. Streetview did not look promising. At all. But at that hour of the evening I decided that it was a problem I would deal with when I got there.

The next morning while I was showering I said the words of my monologue out loud for the first time, playing with a few ideas, but the practice needed to end with the water as I dried myself into some semblance of put-together-ness. And then I was off to find this location for my audition. A quick google told us that the venue was an institution which trained/prepared models for the camera. This made sense as it was an on-camera audition. 
These are no ordinary tyres...
I always try to be a little early for an audition, but when we arrived at what was the correct number on the door at 5 minutes to eight and the venue was entirely locked up I started becoming doubtful of the legitimacy of this pro-bono project. I decided that if, by a quarter past eight, no one had arrived I would invoice the group for my petrol costs and be on my way. So with time on our hands we explored the industrial area, with sheets of metal and power cables existing the space next to our said venue. And right across the door we found where tractor tyres went to die. An entire graveyard of tractor tyres stacked up dwarfing me (although my freakishly tall sibling would comment that dwarfing me isn’t exactly a challenge).

Just meters from the entrance to the audition venue.

As we headed back to the car two more cars arrived, with apologetic people clambering out and unlocking the venue and carrying equipment. I filled in the paper work as they set up before the first round of auditioning for an animated super-hero. A communal yes and more signed paperwork moved me to the second round. Even though they seemed to like me, and the audition went really well I have not heard back from the team of animators. It comes with the territory. So you post pictures online of tractor trucks that dwarf you, you laugh at the circumstances, you find yourself in, and you prepare yourself for the next audition. Cause maybe this time it will be your day.