Tuesday, 2 August 2011

When the shoe is on the other foot

While I love the exhilaration of being on stage, acting, I long ago found my place behind the camera of filmmaking. And I like it there. I like when my mind whirls at a thousand beats a second and images are appearing in my mind that are breathtaking and then I grab hold of the challenge to translate that all onto film.

Today, however, I reverted back to being the one in the spotlight. Or at least in the audition chair.

A couple weeks ago I got a phone call from Public Affairs representative for our church. Our church has been running a campaign called "I am a Mormon." In the project creator's own words: While our backgrounds and experiences are diverse, we share a deep commitment to Jesus Christ, to each other, and our neighbors. Watch these stories of faith in the everyday lives of Mormons."

So this call came in from someone knowing my background in film, and asked me to compile a list of people I thought would make great subjects for this video campaign, as the filmmakers would be coming to do interviews up here in Toronto. No problem, I said. I actually did a ton of casting back in university, so I have a bit of a knack for searching out people who have great stories and who can convey those stories well on camera (not easy to do!) I submitted a list of 7 or 8 names and gave it no further thought.

Until last week when I got a phone call. Turns out my name showed up on several lists from other people, and I was offered an interview slot.


If you hop over and watch some the profiles, you may start to understand my incredulity. These are stories of people who have extraordinary lives, unusual situations, really unique identities. While I may have been on an interesting path at one point, as a female filmmaker, there really is nothing all that captivating about my life now. Don't get me wrong - I love who I am, what I'm becoming, and what I do. It's just that lots of other women do exactly the same thing.

I gave it a little thought and tried to come up with list of some unique things about my life. I jotted down that I have three boys under 5, and that I was raised with only sisters. I wrote down that I have a passion for learning new things, and that in the past 5 years I've built a fence, learned the flute and guitar, bought a kayak, sewn quilts, began a garden. I scribbled that I take my boys camping and raise an 8-man tent on my own. I thought about my passion for music for young kids.

It still didn't seem all that unique, but that was me. And the thing with casting is that you never really know what it is they are looking for. Because as a casting director, sometimes you don't even know yourself until you see it. So tonight I went to the interview, and had a blast. It was very odd to talk non-stop about myself for 20 minutes and not know a thing about the guys sitting across from me. (I think if they do come to make a video about me, I will grab my camera and turn it on them!) My thoughts came out like a bucket of ping pong balls tossed into an empty racquetball court. I drew on a lot of the energy and chaos that is my everyday life as a mom of 3 young boys. I talked about myself, my interests, my passions, my kids, my dreams, my past, my future. Seriously, now that I think about it, it's a wonder they could follow my thought pattern at all. But I figured that I've got nothing to lose if I lay it all out on the table. That's what acting, filmmaking, artistry is all about. If you can't let go of your inhibitions, you'll never create anything that is honest. And only honest art can touch people's hearts and minds.

It's hard to imagine the odds in situations like this. As a casting director, the more people you see, the easier your job is. Over the next few weeks these guys will take it all in, digest it all, and select those films they want to make. While it would be a wonderful memory to have this moment in life captured in this way, just the experience of mulling over my life has been wonderful. I think this was just what I needed for some artistic inspiration.

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