Los Angeles, Wild Card

All in a Day’s Work

I opened my Facebook account to find that I had a new message waiting for me. It was from Anayo, one of the guys I had met working on set a few weeks ago. He had told me about a project that he was going to be directing, so I wasn’t entirely surprised when I read his note: “how is your schedule looking like tomorrow? would you like to help me out during my auditions and help coordinate my actors coming in?”

I checked the calendar. The Wheaton film crew had planned a production meeting to work on our upcoming web series for the next day. I emailed Anayo back, asking what time he wanted me and he responded promptly that the auditions would be held between 4:45-7pm. Our meeting was earlier in the afternoon, so it sounded like a go! I did need to check and make sure I wasn’t supposed to work that evening, though.

Surprise! I have another job! This is another story, in and of itself:

Two weeks ago, some family friends from Indianapolis were out in the LA area. I met up with them on Sunday and they joined me for the church service at Lake Avenue. Afterwards, they suggested we go to brunch at a nearby restaurant. They asked if I knew about “The Raymond” and I told them that I honestly hadn’t heard of it, but I’d love to go! It turned out to be one of the best breakfasts I had ever indulged in. We sampled the pineapple glazed french toast, apple fritters, the homemade cinnamon rolls… (my father would be so proud). While we were settling our stomachs with coffee, Leslie, one of the owners of the restaurant stopped by our table to see how our meal had been. She mentioned that the restaurant was going through a lot of changes and that they were trying to restaff at the moment.

Just to be conversational, I responded to her by saying, “Well, I could always use part-time work!”

Leslie looked at me and said, “Just hang on a minute! I’ll go get our General Manager and he’ll give you an application.”

Moments later, I’m shaking hands with Chris, the GM, and taking an application.

“I’d be happy to meet with you tomorrow, if that works with your schedule,” Chris said.

“Uhhh. Sounds great!” I mustered, still slightly shocked by the sudden turn of events.

Monday, I found myself sitting on the patio with Chris, discussing my resume and my plans for the future. I explained that I had already been hired at Annandale Golf Club but they had not put me on the schedule, yet.

Chris nodded. “Well, we can adjust your times later if need be. Could you start tomorrow?”

Wait. I’m hired??

Yes. I am now officially a hostess at the Raymond Restaurant. It is a fabulous, iconic Pasadena establishment. I love the staff, the hours, the service. And, of course, the food.

Back to my previous story, though. Since my official training period at The Raymond had come to a close, my regular schedule was still in flux. I called my co-worker Amanda to see if I needed to come in at all.

“I don’t think so,” she told me. “I’ll check the schedule when I get there, but I know I’m working all night so we should be fine.”

Alright. So all I had to do was go to the production meeting, then help Anayo with auditions. No big deal.

Rather spontaneously, I invited my friend Jaci (you might remember her as the 1st AC on our set a few weeks back) to come to the production meeting with me.

I called her on the phone, saying, “I’d love to have a non-Wheatie getting a say in this project. And, as a producer, I have the complete authority to invite you!” She laughed and agreed to come along.

The meeting went well. Ten and I had developed a set of characters and a storyline. We had also written the first four episodes in full. Tim and Sam Hayes (a screenwriter and fellow Wheaton alum) said our script needed some work, but that they really liked the groundwork that we had established. We discussed our development timeline, key plot details we wanted to include, and who would be in charge of doing what. Jaci chimed in with comments on any artistic elements that we had bypassed.

It felt so good to be moving forward with our own project! I’m excited to share this new journey with you.

Then, it was time to head downtown. Once again, I looked at Jaci.

“Umm.. any interest in helping me with auditions this afternoon? I don’t think Anayo will mind if you come. And since it’s my first time doing something like this, I could definitely use the help!”

Jaci volunteered herself immediately. She’s great. We headed out and finally arrived at “The Complex” just off of Santa Monica Blvd. There were two floors of acting studios, connected by long hallways. Anayo had reserved a room and began to set up shop.

He handed me a crate. “There’s a stack of clipboards. If you just want to have people fill out a form, we need to collect those along with their headshots. Oh and can you take a picture of them, too?” Jaci took the camera and began flipping through the setttings. We headed back out to the hallway to get organized.

“I’m so glad you’re here right now,” I told Jaci. “I wouldn’t know what to do with that thing,” I said, pointing to the camera. She laughed and replied, “It’s not that tough. I’ll get around to teaching you one of these days!”

I put a stack of forms on each clipboard, along with a pen. Then I picked up the other stack of papers Anayo had given me. It was a list of all the people who were coming to audition. I flipped through page after page.

Sticking my head back into the room, I asked, “Umm.. do you really think we’re going to be able to audition all these people today?”

“Oh yeah. Yeah. Only like a quarter of them will come anyways. People never show up.” Anayo went back to setting up the camera inside and getting his own papers in order.

I shrugged and looked at the two guys sitting at the end of the hallway. “Are you both here to audition?”

They nodded, so I gave them the paperwork. It was still half an hour before “go time”. A few more people came up the stairs. They were there to audition, as well.

“Umm… Anayo?” I said hesitantly, stepping into the room again. “There’s a handful of people here already. Should we get started?”

“Really?” He sounded surprised. “Sure, sure, let’s do this!”

I sent the first guy in, along with his paperwork. The audition lasted about 8 minutes. In that span of time ten more actors arrived. The hallways was already beginning to feel full and they were fifteen minutes ahead of schedule! As I escorted the next hopeful into the room, I let Anayo that we really needed to keep things moving. He smiled and nodded.

Right at 5:00, there was a mad rush. Twenty people came, joining the fifteen in the hallway already. The temperature was beginning to increase and people wanted to know how long it was going to take. I was trying to manage the influx of forms and headshots.

“Make sure to have Jaci take your picture!” I said every few minutes.

The hallway was packed. Guests coming in and out of the other classrooms would step into the walkway with a look of either mild amusement or sheer concern. I kept pestering Anayo, “We have got to keep things moving! It’s crazy out there!” The auditions began to go at a quicker pace, but more actors arrived by the minute. By 6pm, I knew that it was hopeless.

“Anayo, there is no way we’re getting all these people through in an hour,” I told him directly.

“It’s okay, Princess. I’m going to make sure everybody get’s a chance. We’ll just have to figure something out.”

I went back out to the hallway and reminded myself that this wasn’t my problem, I was just helping to facilitate, not take charge. It was at that moment my phone rang. It was Amanda, from the Raymond.

“Hey, so I just got to work and it looks like you’re on the schedule. Any chance you can come in?”

“Oh Amanda. I’m kinda in the middle of something crazy right now. I’ll try to get there later, though?”

“Thanks, I just realized I need to leave early so whenever you can get here that would be great!”

I hung up my phone, so I could grab the forms that were being shoved my way by the latest arrivals. I shared a look with Jaci. She rolled her eyes and shook her head. It was just one of those days.

At 6:45pm, the building manager came to warn us that we needed to leave in 15 minutes. He thought the whole business was ridiculous and told us so. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”

I looked at Anayo. “We have forty-five people still waiting in the hallway. I’m going to start sending them in in groups, or else we will never make this happen.”

He nodded, silent for once. I went back out and started calling out names. We got through 15 people before 7pm. A group of older actors began entering the room at this point, as they had it rented from 7-10pm. Jaci and I helped through all of Anayo and his camera guy’s paperwork in a crate and skedaddle.

I followed Anayo out into the hallway and waited to see his reaction. He looked like a kid at Christmas. “I can’t believe so many people came! Let’s umm… let’s set up down here.” He promptly placed the camera at the end of the hall and began auditioning them right there. It was only a few minutes later that the building manager found us, and shook his head at me. “This is completely unacceptable.”

We were kicked to the street. There were still twenty viable actors, waiting to be auditioned. Anayo refused to send anyone home, respecting the fact that they had waited so long to try and impress him. Suddenly, I realized he was preparing to audition them right there on the curb.

“Anayo!” I nearly yelled, picking the crate back up from where he’d just set it. “This is crazy! Let’s at least go around the corner and find some place a little quieter.” He agreed, and the rest followed us up the block and down a side street. Anayo set up shop in a small alleyway. I sent him groups of five at a time and we wrapped up within twenty minutes. Suddenly, it was just the four of us standing on the sidewalk.

“I can’t believe we just did that,” someone said, expressing what we all were thinking. We had just auditioned 84 people in just under 3 hours.

Before the momentary lull could further dull my senses, I said my goodbyes and ran back to my car. I hit a bit of rush hour traffic, but was still able to make it to The Raymond by 8:15pm. I worked ’til close, then went straight to bed.

Productive. Crazy. Ridiculous.

Call it what you will. This is my life!


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