I woke up this morning, staggered into the kitchen and sliced a loo roll in half with a bread knife. First of all, in preparation, I got a 6 foot mahogany stand from the corner of my living room and taped my iPad to the top. Then I tethered my iPad to my phone, because the internet is broken in my flat, and downloaded an app called Filmic pro using my phone’s bad data connection. Then I worked out where I would stand, and how. I had to walk into shot with bowed legs in order to reduce my height and get the top of my head in shot. I practiced a bit until I stopped looking like an Oompa Loompa. Then when I was confident it was all lined up I sliced the loo roll in half in one take. It took a bit longer than I expected. I only had one loo roll to waste though, so I wrapped that shot and moved on.
Next thing I had to do was to fry an egg. I would have to flip it and catch it in a plate, so I deliberately broke the yolk. Don’t want yolk all over my lovely clean kitchen! I still hadn’t had my coffee. But time was ticking. I had a day job to get to. I fried the egg. I also laid out an ironing board with a wet shirt on it, just out of shot. Fry egg, hear sizzling, flip egg, catch on plate. Put plate down out of shot, grab shirt, put shirt out of shot other side, pull ironing board with wet shirt into shot hoping it reads as the same shirt, slap down hot pan into wet shirt, hear sizzle, start ironing with pan. Brian emerged from his bedroom and watched bemused in his dressing gown. Second take was cleaner. Done. Coffee.
This is a self-taped audition and it came through last night, when the light was wrong. It had to be with them for noon today. I was working 9-12.30 at Imperial, invigilating an exam for the summer course. As my agent said, the money for this self-tape is not great, but money is still money and it will bankroll Spain if I get it. So it’s worth a bit of weirdness first thing in the morning.
Problem is, now it’s in the can, I still have to send it. And they want a lot. They want 2 photos, and ident, and a form. I have to pay £9.99 for a PDF editor so I can fill in the form. I paid for Filmic a long time ago. I get it all ready, put it in a wetransfer and try to send it while getting 250 students into The Great Hall for an exam. “I thought you said you’d be rehearsing Hamlet for this that tour of America, and we wouldn’t see you,” says Christine. “It fell through,” I reply, sparely, as all the feelings shoot through me again and this is the first week of rehearsals. “You were really excited about that,” she says sympathetically. “Yes. I was. But now I need to send this video of me ironing with a pan.”
Periodically I go and check the status. 0%. It won’t go through the college WiFi. Fuck. It’s now 10.00. The exam is underway and there are plenty of us. “I’m going to check the loo,” I say, and run out of the college onto the road to book an Uber home. I’ve forgotten that my internet is down at home and I am rushing back to try and upload it on my home network. The round trip is about 25 minutes. It doesn’t occur to me that I have no internet at home (broken router) until a phone upload is interrupted by a text from the courier to say that they have just failed to deliver my new router and it’s going back to the depot. Nooooo! I turn the Uber around. I have successfully uploaded and sent an ident now by phone. It’s a start. Over £20 spent and I’ve sent: “Hello my name is Al Barclay.” My agent rings to say she’s got it. “That’s quite a tan you have.” I tan in a blizzard. But yes, it is. It’s the Spaniard in me. Olé.
Eventually the ironing scene goes through to my agent. The loo roll scene is too long. My phone can’t cope. It won’t send. Time is running out. My agent sends it to the Germans with just the iron scene. It’s 11.00. Everything is on fire in the exam room. It’s the summer course. None of the academics have checked their questions. “Where have you been?” Asks Christine.”Checking the toilets.” I say. She looks like she thinks I’ve been crying. “Don’t worry. I’m sure something will come up.”
Bloody self tapes. If it’s not the equipment that’s lacking it’s the software. If it’s not the software it’s the connectivity. If it’s not the connectivity it’s the knowledge. Now we all have to be camera savvy, tech savvy, light savvy, sound savvy and good actors, and that’s before we even get in the room. £10 software, £10 uber, 1 egg, 1 loo roll. Still, if someone in Germany likes my face I could be paid enough to take a month off work and go on some hippy pilgrimage to Spain just for ironing a shirt with a pan. So it’s swings and roundabouts. And with the turnaround it’s probable that there weren’t many people who bothered doing it. Or so I tell myself, as Klaus in Düsseldorf stares down the barrel of 3k emails, throws his hands in the air despairing, and picks a random number. Pick my random number Klaus! Pick me! I wanna go to Spain. It ain’t quite Miami but it’ll do.