Since you were born, how many times has the earth spun around on its axis and around the sun? If you are old enough to already be frustrated about your lack of TV opportunities, I’d wager you’ve seen a significant number of these revolutions. You may not be ancient, but you don tay small, as kids do not get easily frustrated about these things. Well, maybe only on that silly show – ‘Toddlers and Tiaras.’
Anyway, now that that’s out of the way, would you please ask yourself how many times you have witnessed someone win a lottery they did not play or get a job they never applied for, in all the time that you’ve been alive? I’m waiting.
Rapping my fingers on my desk.
Time up. You cannot quite cite very many examples of those can you? Aha.
So you see, for those of you who sit in your houses demanding to be on television but never getting up to actually attend an audition, ah, I don’t know what you are drinking or smoking o, but I want some of it whenever I have downtime.
Who is your jazzman sef? Tell him that his magic will not work. If you want to be on television and you get wind of an audition, which fits the scope of the kind of TV work you hope to be doing, would you kindly get up off your bum and just attend? Badgering your writer friends is not likely to get you there, neither will over-analyzing the idea of putting yourself out there to be judged by someone else. It is what it is – a job interview. You’re going to have to deal.
While we wait for you to psyche yourself up and for this to coincide with a time in your life where there will be a boost in the number of ‘Auditions! Auditions!! Auditions!!!’ text messages you receive, here are a few things to bear in mind regarding the subject. This list is not exhaustive but these are some of the very important points that come to my mind easily. Oh yes, do feel free to thank me later.
Before you get into the venue:
- Please understand that there is such a thing as a ‘fake audition call’. It is the senior, demented cousin of the infamous casting couch. Actual messages are sent out with a venue and all of that officious-sounding stuff. Then you arrive and are told it’s an audition for a romantic/raunchy movie and if you want the role you have to play up the sexiness, in fact, would you not like to practice the scene with the producer? He needs to be sure that you can really get into character. Before you know it you are in full coitus mode on the couch. Don’t shout ‘aaaaah’. This stuff happens.
- How do you know a fake audition call? If it isn’t for something already established and well-known, you’ll need to do a lot of asking around. Find out who these people are, who knows them at all? What have they done before? If none of this leads you to the light and you get there and are fed with the hogwash above, leave. Just leave, really.
- After we establish that it is not a fake call, note that all of Lagos will be there. And I mean this quite literarily. You will see your neighbor who you assumed was attending a vigil in Church the previous night. He will tell you he decided to come ‘early’, so he arrived the venue late at night, the day before, camped outside it and became number seven hundred on the tally-number This list will be a register created by some Smart Alec in the crowd who is fairly endowed with foresight. He knew that there would be the usual “I was at his back and he was at her back” mayhem and he wanted to solve the crisis before it cropped up.
- It will not matter whether these people who have produced a register have any talent at all. Wetin concern agbero with overload? The issue here will be very basic. “I came first!” “This is cheating! You can’t cheat me”, “Nigeria is bad because of people like you!”. Ah, you don’t want to tear shirt in a scuffle. Arrive early. Be that Smart Alec. Or his friend. Just get your name on that list by hook or crook. This cannot be overemphasized.
- Do not fall asleep while waiting for your turn. A number of things can happen when you take your eyes off the ball like this. You may wake up and find that you have drooled all over your shirt and are now the subject of a now viral meme with a very catchy caption. “No need for borehole, plenty water dey here”. The captions these days are usually worse than this actually. Dastardly stuff.
- Once again, do not fall asleep while waiting for your turn. A number of things can happen when you take your eyes off the ball like this. You may wake up and find that a new list has been created. You will never get to the bottom of why such a thing happened. You will then be consumed with anger and worry over the fact that from number eighty-seven on the old list, you are now grazing the bottom of the new one. Number five hundred and sixty two. I got an anger-lump in my chest just writing that. Do not let this be your story.
- Always have pictures of yourself. No, o, not selfies on your phone, Einstein. Proper, printed pictures, non-photoshopped but taken with a good camera. What’s the standard portrait measurement? I do not remember. What I can tell you quite confidently though is that at the audition venue, there will be vultures with cameras around their necks. They will tout themselves as professional photographers. They will scavenge off of your ignorance. Something like one thousand naira for a single photograph. Do you have that kind of money to spare, out of the blue? Yes? Ah your papa get money then. Moving on.
- Did you have a shower before coming to the venue? Don’t look at me like that. In all that hurry to beat the traffic and avoid being number one thousand and seventy-five on the queue, you could have skipped your toilette. If this is you, I feel sorry. You will be a nuisance to other people. Even if you get the role eventually, some people will see you on TV and say “no mind that one, if you see as e dey smell ehn? Tufiakwa, abeg change channel”. I shudder.
Now that you’re in the waiting room:
- Be calm. If you have no acting ability, this will not be the morning/afternoon/night when you will suddenly be blessed with it. So there is nothing to panic about. You either have it or you don’t. What you should actually do is pray that the level of skill or non-skill that you do have is just right for the producer/director/writers that you will be meeting. You see, ‘talent’ and who either has it or does not possess a smidgen of it is still an unresolved argument amongst film practitioners. There is no unanimous opinion even about the biggest stars. For instance some people think that Tonto Dike is Oscar worthy. Some would slap the taste out of your mouth if you uttered such a thing. As long as you meet people who think you are great, all is well.
- Did you arrive the venue dressed in the neon-colored signage vests of your place of worship? Now is the time to take it off, you silly moo. If I have to go into a long explanation about why you should not go into the audition room looking this way then there is a foundational problem and I do not have a solution for you today.
- Do not banter too much with competition. Believe it or not, in order to unnerve you, some people have been planted there by your village witches. These people will tell you of their own bad experiences at auditions. They will tell you that they know the producer and he is very wicked. Keep the conversations to a minimum my friend. And chew some gum while you’re at it so that the tight-lippedness does not result in full-blown halitosis, which might end up being counter-productive if you have to introduce yourself to the producer at close range, for whatever reason. So you see it’s quite tricky, but I trust you’ll find a balance.
When you finally get in:
- Do not be awkward and stupid. It is not cute except if you’re casting for the role of an awkward and stupid person. In which case the producers will be wowed. “This one’s a natural!”. Ha! What can I say?
- I recently advertised for a teacher to help with my daughter who’s blind. Just someone to engage her in educational play when I’m busy. They didn’t have to be a professional special-needs teacher or even a professional teacher at all, but as long as they had patience, loved kids, could speak well, etc., the job was theirs. I got a call from a young lady who very excitedly responded to the “why do you want this job?” question thus: “I’m not busy, I’m very bored, I just want somewhere to be going to, someone to be talking to.” Na wa o. With my daughter? You must be out of your damn mind.
Film people take their art seriously. A film or TV project is the director or producer’s baby. Special-needs baby if you like. Something to be handled delicately and deliberately; with love, passion, and drive. You will irritate the hell out of them if you tell them that their baby is your idea of a “let’s just muck about for a while” stop-gap. “Bored abi? Go to the cinema, ode oshi”. Film people cuss a lot.
- Break a leg. Not literarily. Just have fun. When you start reading or acting out a prepared scene, enjoy yourself. Especially when you realize that you are messing it up. What’s the point in destroying something if you will not destroy it with flair? Go out with a bang! You will annoy the producers initially but when you walk out of the room they will burst into laughter. Making people laugh is a skill in itself. You should therefore be proud.
- Finally, if after giving it your all the producers cannot be bothered to spare you a nice word, kindly tell them off. Yes, give them a piece of your mind! Some of these producers are made in hell! Nothing can ever satisfy them! They already know those who they want to cast, this audition is a sham!
Okay I’m messing with you. Don’t give the producers backtalk. But you can practice that little speech because it usually comes in handy for boosting your ego when you have to narrate your experience to nosey friends and family. “Ol’ boy, how far – why them no give you the role na?”
“Crazy people. They were biased. And I ‘told them my mind’. I told them to take their damn role and stuff it where the sun don’t shine. You know me naaa, no time, abeg-abeg-abeg!’
Yeah right. ‘Yada’ three times.
You’re the same person who will then pick up their phone, look up that next audition notice, and start this wahala all over again. You get power o.
May the force be with you.