Most people have probably heard about the series of open calls that are taking place for the upcoming Star Wars film. A number of weeks ago I heard about the chance to audition for a "Major Disney film" to be released in 2015. Despite having no knowledge of what film this was (later revealed as Star Wars), the words "open audition" resounded in my mind and of course had my imagination picturing the endless, but vivid, outcome of what an opportunity like this could potentially lead to in any ordinary person's life. Of course, the stark reality is that I can't even act (and have never even tried to), not to forget, I am far too uptight to even contemplate performing in front of others. But the hallucinations and lingering 'what if' fantasies that sprung into my mind completely out-weighed the reality of this situation, leaving me with no option but to go.
This Saturday, my girlfriend Abby and I woke up at 8am and prepared for a long day ahead of us at the Star Wars London auditions. After a 45 minute drive, we arrived at the end of an almighty infinite long snake-queue of wannabes, based in the colossal car park of Twickenham Stadium by 10.30am. Prior to this, I parked my car at the local Tesco, worrying if my car would be clamped in the aftermath of what I expected to be a tedious 10 hour stay. However, upon entering the supermarket to sneakily use their toilets (that were temporarily set up outside to accommodate the overflow) my eyes had already witnessed the bulky line of auditionees queuing to have their headshots printed in advance. This is when I realised that this casting call had clearly received a somewhat overwhelmingly high response.
Anyone who knows my girlfriend and I, would understand our judgemental tendencies. Upon looking every single auditionee up and down, we had already discussed who stood a chance and who didn't; sharing verdicts such as "he's ginger, they won't want that"... "she's HUGE, she won't stand a chance". At that moment, it occurred to me that maybe I was just as deluded as every one of these hopefuls who I had judged. Maybe I was just another desperate, fame-hungry, talentless nobody that the casting directors would just laugh at prior to sending me on my way home within seconds.
Throughout the first two hours we were standing in what seemed to be a never-ending line of people. As we moved, we would gradually encounter members of the production crew attempting to whet the appetite for every other person listening. After what felt like an eternity, we went past the holy 'green gate', into the stadium, only to be devastated by another ghastly snake queue that led into the tunnels of the stadium. This is when it occurred to us that the entire audition process was outdoors and that we would only endure more time in the numbing cold we had already suffered throughout the morning. Of course, I had noticed large quantities of people give up on the queue and admit defeat by the tedious process that we had allowed ourselves to face. With the uncertainty of how long the wait would be, we stayed committed, considering it already dawned on us that we would face pneumonia next week anyway. Whilst in the line we had spoken to a wide array of people, many who were evident Star-Wars super fans, others aspiring actors and actresses who lived, breathed and shat drama from age four. Then there were the rest of them, just like us; 'modest', ordinary and 'humble' young individuals that were there for the experience and delusional prospect that they could be the next "big-thing".
By 3.30pm the end of the queue had finally emerged. Although, I was still in disbelief that this was it, I could see the sacred 'blue tent' that the casting directors were located in. At this moment, everyone took out their pocket mirrors and iphone cameras to check themselves out, which despite doing so myself, I had already realised that this would make absolutely no difference to whatever was about to happen. We were then told by another member of the production team that we would enter two tents; one with a mirror for us to brush ourselves up, followed by the second with "two very experienced casting directors, who were looking for a very specific look". This is when it dawned on me that I had absolutely no chance of getting through the first stage. We were then told that if we were given a golden ticket, it means that we would progress to the next stage (which I assumed would later be an actual audition). This was not an audition, it was a simple walk through at which the producers would merely take one vague look at us, and decide whether or not we "looked the part".
I would describe my experience in this tent, but in actual fact it was so fast that I cannot actually recall anything happening. I simply walked into the tent, witnessed a woman stare at my face for a millisecond, handed my form in and then left. Upon exiting, everyone else who had entered the tent just looked confused as if they could not actually believe that that was it. Of course, we were told that "everyone would be given the chance to meet a casting director" before hand, but I for certain did not personally meet anyone.
The disappointment on everyone's faces looked like a nasty scent had just spread across the wind. I believe many others were in disbelief that they had queued up for five hours to not even be asked for their names. My girlfriend is still trying to convince me that she does not recall anyone actually "looking at her" inside the tent. I on the other hand just took the experience on the chin and laughed it off. Yes I had expected the process to potentially only last a mere 20 seconds, however this was far less than what I had even imagined. We had all heard about how people were turned away instantly at other auditions, but this audition didn't even turn us away, as we were not even acknowledged in the first place.
I am not disappointed by the outcome of this. I accept that I volunteered for this and could have turned back at any point to avoid the 99.9% chance of rejection that I was ultimately destined for. I do on the other hand feel sorry for every 'drama kid' that had travelled for three hours and camped since 6am that morning. In my eyes, this open call for Star Wars was clearly nothing but a marketing technique to enthuse fans about the film and build hype around its release. I am certain that the successful candidates for both lead roles will be experienced professionals anyway. I had heard parents say that Disney should be ashamed, but in reality I think I should be more ashamed for being so naive in the first place and allowing myself to give in to my own delusions. If anything, I learned that there are thousands of other 23-year-olds like me, who are also facing a quarter life crises and dream of a life-changing experience showing up on a plate in front of them. This experience had a consequence of reality slapping me in the face. With that in mind, if I ever hear of any other open audition similarly publicised in the near future, I'll already admit that I will have no hesitation about 'trying out' again.
I'm not even aware if there are any more open auditions for this film. However, if there are and you are planning to turn up, hopefully this will help you decide whether it's worth your time or not. I have since read many tweets from people with the same experience as mine, whereas I have also come across many people who have boasted about getting a call back. The truth is, no one knows what's in store for them unless they go as I still cannot figure out what exactly it was the casting directors were looking for. Just know that the chances are EXTREMELY slim!
I can also confirm that I will most probably NOT watch the film when it is released, as this would have only been on the condition that I got the part. But the chances of that were only one in a million anyway, so that's a relief!