Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Central Casting: finally registered!

First, my guy thought my last post sounded like I was excited for "the big one!" Of course not! Yesterday the Long Beach area had another medium one that made the news; I did not feel it either.

Next, I chatted with a good friend from Ohio; his amusement at some of my stories has motivated me to be a more diligent blogger! Hopefully I can get all of my back-logged tales in type over the coming week or so...

Finally, the point of this post is to say I finally registered with Central Casting Monday morning. They are the top agency to supply TV shows and movies with background artists. They are a calling service, meaning 95% of the work an actor can get is based on the actor calling a hotline daily to see if they fit the needed types.

Non-union actors can register on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Last week I had gone, but didn't get there as early as I'd like; I decided I'd rather go back another day than stand in the very slowly moving fifty-person line. I arrived at 10 a.m. Monday to find about fifteen people already there. However, most of them were sitting around the extremely large table filling out paperwork. (I had typed and printed all my forms from the website.) I knew where the line would start and sat there to wait.

You are instructed to come camera ready, with regard to your hair, makeup and attire. It's interesting to me to see how some people interpret that! Granted, extras need to look like "real people," but many of them didn't look like they knew they'd be photographed. There was really only one extreme case and she was pretty unbelievable!

Imagine, if you will, a bewildered woman clad in a skimpy black dress. It was a tight jersey material with lace around the hem and v-neck. With its spaghetti straps and lacking length, it seemed to perhaps be sleepwear. The dress was the least of her problems though; below it she was wearing bright read, wide, fishnet stockings! You guessed it, at the bottom of it all were four inch, platform, acrylic stripper heels! The cherry on top was her long, blond, fake hair, clip-on ponytail!

The thing was, she wasn't wearing five pounds of make up, or a look upon her face that said "slut" or "bitch." Rather, she looked lost and vulnerable. She was carrying a huge black duffel bag. I felt awful for her. I imaged the contents of her entire life was in that bag and someone must have told her, "Take the Grey Hound to LA, work the pole at Girls Girls Girls to get your $25 to register at Central Casting in the morning..."

I wanted to take a discrete picture, but she was close enough only once and I would have felt guilty. Not surprisingly, a sleazy guy quickly aided her in filling out the paperwork! At about 10:35 two employees came out to explain the process. Of course, some morons insisted on asking personal and insignificant questions and thus, the line didn't actual form until almost 11 a.m. Registration consists of showing proper identification, since you have to fill out tax forms to get paid, having an employee check that your forms are correct and complete and having a picture taken. There is a one time fee of $25, with the requirement that you update your registration at least every two years.

For an additional fee you can add headshots, but they take a picture of you that day so it's actually what you currently look like. The picture taking experience was about as uncomfortable as the DMV! You stand on an X in front of a white screen and once it's clicked, you're done. You don't get to see the picture! On one hand, I can understand that's to keep the line moving, but I hate that I have no idea what image casting directors are viewing! I'm usually pretty photogenic, but still...! They recommend you go back to update your picture (for free) every six months or so. I want to practice in the mirror and go back next week!

So have I booked a job through them yet?! No... I listened to the hotline last night, this morning and tonight, but there hasn't been much on it. They recommend you call often from 2 to 8 p.m. If that's when all the good jobs get posted, I'm screwed, because that's when I'm at my sales job. The hotline takes forever to listen to because there is 30 to 60 seconds of silence between each recording. An example of the various recordings is: "Hi this is Jane Doe the casting director. I am booking This Show for This Date and I'm looking for women of This Body Type/Specificity. Wardrobe for the shoot is This. If you fit, call me at ###."

If you fit the type, you call that casting director, they look you up in the database and say yes or no. Punctuality and professionalism are expected onset, or you'll be reprimanded and possibly suspended from Central Casting. As my faux manager, my guy has volunteered to listen to the hotline for me during the critical hours. If he hears something good for me, he can text me the details and phone number. I am able to make a short phone call while I'm at work, I just can't be listening to a 3 to 6 minute recording throughout the day. Although... I could dial out through my headset, so I'm not busted with my cell phone to my ear! Of course! I feel so stupid for thinking it would be a problem. Duh - my job is being on the phone! I'll just have to figure out which button on the phone to hit to flip back to the sales dialer if my computer screen shows that a customer has actually answered their damn phone.

My guy will be in LA to visit me in mid June. (I can not wait!) I haven't figured out exactly how I will be asking for that time off yet, but it makes me feel like I shouldn't take too much off before then. Of course, I will be listening to the hotline and will definitely call for any great jobs, but I'm not immediately jumping into the extra work full force. At least I am now registered! It's both a good fall back and will definitely put me in the right places where incredible opportunites are known to happen!

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