By Marci Liroff
I had a very unique experience a few weeks ago that I just have to share!
I am the Executive Producer and Casting Director of a pilot presentation entitled “Myrna”. “Myrna” follows the life of an actor who sacrifices everything as she makes the transition from male to female. So far, we have raised over $34,000 (with a record breaking achievement of matching our goal of $25k in the first 10 days!)
I had been involved with this project as we tried (and failed) to get it off the ground over the last couple of years. After many re-writes we had a great script, the timing was right, one of our producers positioned us just perfectly with the crowdfunding site “FanBacked” and finally we were in pre-production.
When I was first offered the project I told them that I would do it on one condition. I had to play the role of the casting director. The creator, Marlo Bernier said, “Are you kidding honey? I wrote it for you! You better play it!”
I clearly remember waking up on my shooting day with the “Christmas morning” feeling in my belly. I was so excited. I had learned all my lines with the help of a friend and The Rehearsal app (which by the way is brilliant for learning your lines!).
I came to set with no make-up on as requested along with a collection of a few outfits that the wardrobe designer asked for. This was the start of my giant leap of faith to trust and let go. You see, I usually never leave the house without at least some make-up on. At my age I see this as a benevolent gesture on my part toward mankind. I sat down in the make-up chair and the set photographer immediately started taking shots of me. Um, no. Not without make-up I pleaded. He respected my wishes and walked away.
I then proceeded to have a giant case of flop sweat. Think of the scene in Broadcast News when Albert Brooks was sweating right through his suit and drops of sweat were raining down on his news copy.
We were shooting in a TV production office on a Sunday and I probably reminded our producer Jennifer Fontaine about six times to make sure the air-conditioning was working properly that day. Control freak. She was so kind, she even came in at 6am to get it cooled down by the time I arrived. Nonetheless, my body decided to take over which resulted in the make-up lady fanning me with a giant manila file folder. A giant electric fan appeared from an angel production assistant and things started to get back on track.
That is, of course, until I was sent to get my hair done. I walked down a dimly lit hallway to a small storage room where our Emmy award-winning hair designer was working. I sat down in the chair and again found myself concentrating on letting go. No mirror. What?! I had no idea what he was going to do to my hair. I already had my hair done for the shoot so I can’t imagine why he was ratting, backcombing, and spraying copious amounts of hairspray. “You like big hair, don’t you?” I was terrified. I came out looking somewhat like my mother; which is not entirely a bad thing – just not my look. Everyone said I looked beautiful so I went with it.
I then went to set for camera blocking and to run my lines with the lead actor, Marlo Bernier. My scene illustrated how hard it is for Myrna who was widely known in the business as Michael, to get a job in her new incarnation. I was surprisingly not nervous. I was the opposite of nervous. As soon as I looked in Marlo’s eyes across the desk I felt oddly serene. I knew my lines, the scene worked well, and I was comforted by the personal touch the production designer, Warren Young, had left for me on my “desk” – his personal day planner. We shot the master, her close-up, my close-up and we were done before I knew what happened.
For a few hours I gave up being a control freak, leaned in, trusted, and let go.
I think I might try that again in real life!
Make sure to check out my new online course “How To Audition For Film and Television: Audition Bootcamp”. You can view it on your laptop or your mobile device and your subscription gives you lifetime viewing privileges for this course. I’ll be adding lectures throughout the year.
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