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Barbara writes

Musings on Life, Art etc.

 
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It's Not My Native Language



Way back in the 1970’s, my cousin Erica gave me a poster. It had a drawing of a confused looking little guy on it, holding a bouquet of flowers, and the caption read, “Every time I finally figure out where it’s at, somebody moves it.”


Well, folks, that’s where I am in the wonderful world of technology. I came to it early, for a person of my generation (a Boomer, yes), determined not to be a functional illiterate. My son came with me to CompUSA (yes, that’s how long ago it was), and, after pausing for an anxiety attack, I bought the sucker for a ridiculous amount of money. We lugged it home…it was a BIG one, set it up, and I set about mastering its basic functions. In a short while I could Word Process (that’s what we called it), send emails, check the internet for news and information. I was pretty proud of myself. Then, along came social media. I learned to FB, post pictures; I was the envy of my contemporary friends, and taught (or tried to teach) quite a few of them this new technology. I branched out. I started reading on Kindle as soon as it came out, and now have a library of over 1,000 books. I hate not being able to loan them to non-Kindle friends, but that’s how it goes. Then came the iPad, which quickly outlived its usefulness, and the miraculous iPhone, which can do just about everything. Even my children and grandchildren were amazed by my comfort in this new world.


Then, somebody moved it. Along came Twitter (I mastered it), Instagram, which continues to confuse me, even though 4 year old children can use it, and TikToc, which I don’t even want to attempt. And Zoom, which I can now use, though I have to take the long way round to set up a meeting. I can bank online, pay bills on Pay Pal (a conservative link that I don’t like to use), and Venmo. I can Skype on my phone, but not, for some reason, on my computer, which is now a sleek Mac laptop in need of replacement because, in computer years, it’s as old as Methusalah, and now playing tricks on me. But, I’ve managed.


And then came online auditions. I’m an actor, used to going to auditions in person where casting directors and their assistants have sides for me, give me direction, and the like. Suddenly, I was on my own, with a list of requirements that these online auditions required (eg. do the audition against a blank wall, with no distractions, have the camera…my iPhone…on a tripod for stability, place the camera on horizontal view, arrange good lighting, have a reader, slate full body, then audition, usually off book). These auditions have become increasingly frequent since the pandemic, and they have many advantages; one doesn’t have to travel to a casting agent’s office, be in proximity with others, you can do as many takes as you would like and pick what you consider to be the best one . They also have many disadvantages; eg: I live in a Federal brownstone; the rooms are small, the walls…those not taken up by fireplaces…are covered with pictures, there is no place to move furniture, the light is poor, it is hard for the person on camera to get far enough away to take a long shot. There is no director, so my choice of best reading may be far from what they are looking for, among others.

The BIG drawback is: I have to send off a BIG FILE to my agent! This sounds simple, and may be to some people, but it is NOT to me, or to my husband (also an actor). This past Sunday, I spent 30 minutes arranging the film site and setting up the camera, 15 minutes auditioning, and 3+ hours trying to send a Big File. I used three different sites claiming to send them easily; none of them sent them. I called my daughter-in-law (an actor) for advice. She had no easy answer, and told me that she’s now being asked for “linked files”, so that the slate and the audition were all part of one file, and that that was a nightmare. I hung up the phone feeling MORE anxiety, and, finally, sent my agent a file using a primitive method, and urging her to accept it, which she did, bless her heart.


I’m wishing SAG or AEA would send out some advice on this. If there are any actors out there reading this, could you please send me a foolproof method of sending off Big Files that would be accessible to someone for whom technology is not a first language. Thanks for your help!

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