A lyrical documentary about the experience of casting actresses for a dramatic film.A lyrical documentary about the experience of casting actresses for a dramatic film.A lyrical documentary about the experience of casting actresses for a dramatic film.
I think Mr Hershey errs in ways that for me make the film a painful experience. He misrepresents what it is to film an actors audition in any standard industry fashion, by using inappropriate and counter-productive camera-work.
Most film and TV is shot in long and medium shots. Close-ups are used, but extreme close-ups rarely. Why then does Mr Hershey shoot these actors in extreme close-up? By doing so it robs the actor the opportunity to present themselves in a practical way, and refocuses the attention to the camera and the director. This technique also obliterates any pretense of an objective documentary. One would think that the very nature of observing an audition would allow for an easy objectivity. If ever a film-maker needed to use simple photography, it is here. You just want to be able to see the actor act. One is reminded of what Fred Astaire demanded - that his movement only be filmed in long shot. But Mr Hershey fails us.
This technique is particularly shoddy when the actors are asked to move. I've seen certain actors perform with their backs to the camera, effectively, but you have to be darned good to do it. And have a darned good director. But to show someone acting in extreme close-up in an audition becomes a laughable device. One can imagine the footage being reviewed and the question raised - Who's ear was that, again?! I also reacted against a montage of hand gestures, robbed of their context, unnecessary shots of cleavage and teeth and hair, and footage of actors preparing to act. The latter is particularly disturbing because it is something that directors are not privy to and should not be privy to, because it is ultimately irrelevant to the result. Yet expressions of anxiety, bravado, examination of the text, and the natural dislike of the monologue form to audition with are presented as if to score points off individuals.
I would like to think that Mr Hershey's motives were noble, and that he did not intend to deliberately mistreat the actors that had agreed to show their work to him. He could have been accused of being naive, if not for the fact that this is not his first credited directing job. But intended or not, he does these women a disservice, in my opinion. To be fair, I point out that the person I saw this film with did not have the same reaction as me, though that person is someone who has never held auditions.
- May 11, 2007