My Day Of Avengers Training

By | Friday, July 15, 2011 4 comments
I opted to head over to today's extras casting call for the Avengers movie. It was supposed to run from noon until 4:00 at an almost-local Holiday Inn. I was mainly curious about the extras casting process, and this would be one of the few movies I'd have enough of an interest in to bother. So I got myself up early, put on a suit (per their instructions in the casting call announcement) and headed out.

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, having never done anything like this before. I figured I'd get there a bit early, hang out with maybe a few hundred other people, have them take my name and contact info, and head home by 1:00 or 1:30.

Not so much.

I did indeed arrive about 45 minutes early. But there was enough traffic that it took me 15 minutes to park after I first pulled into the Holiday Inn parking lot. And the only reason I parked that quickly was because I went to the Red Roof Inn across the street.

There was already a noticeable line, which I stepped in at around 11:30. It looked like this...
It's a little hard to see clearly from here, but if you look closely over the left shoulder of that guy with the orange hair, you can see the line continuing to snake around the back of the building. I'm not a great estimator of crowds, but I'm thinking there were about 1000 people in front of me. By noon (when the casting call officially started) it looked like there were another 1000 behind me...
The line moved forward slowly in fits and starts. More people kept arriving and joining the tail end of the line, which eventually snaked around the entire property almost meeting up with what I thought was the front of the line. I think it'd be safe to estimate at least another 1000 people joined after I snapped that previous picture.

Not surprisingly, small pockets of groups formed in the line as people got to know each other while standing together. There was a fairly quick realization that things were going to take a while, so most people tried breaking down barriers early on. I overheard many (what I hope were) jokes about trying to meet director Joss Whedon or actor Robert Downey Jr. today. Or how it would be super-cool if we got cast as SHIELD agents.

There seemed to me a refreshingly diverse mix of people there. I figured it would be heavily fanboyish and, while they were clearly represented well, there were all sorts of other people too. Obviously, the aspiring actors and actresses with resumes in hand but also a range of folks who just heard about this and thought it might be interesting and/or fun. Plus, one thing that I'm ashamed to admit hadn't occurred to me prior to going, someone mentioned that he was guessing about half of the attendees were simply out of work and needed a job of any sort.

The weather for the first two hours or so was pleasant. A bit warm, but it was overcast so things weren't unbearable. Once the sun came out -- right around the time I got to the parking lot pavement -- most people started sweating pretty heavily. We did that for about an hour before we got close enough to the actual building to stand in the shade.

Now, me? I don't mind the heat all that much, but I am relatively fair-skinned, so I tried to stick to the shade as much as possible. Not figuring on such a huge turnout, and having to wait for hours outside, I didn't bring sunblock. Not surprisingly, I could see by my reflection in some of the glass doors that I still got a bit red.

It wasn't until after 4:00 that I and the folks around me got inside. Casting coordinator Maryellen Aviano did at one point say that everybody who was in line at 4:00 would get seen, but there was clearly another 3-4 hours' worth of people still in line when I left around 4:30. I don't know how long they continued bringing people in after I left; for all I know, they still are as of this writing!

Once I was inside, things went quickly. Aviano essentially told us that 4+ hour wait was not unlike what actual filming would be like. Generally 10-14 hour days in August in downtown Cleveland. The line itself was actually a trial, deliberately set up as a way to winnow the number of candidates down and prepare those who remained for what filming would be like. No one seemed dissuaded, so we all filled out some paperwork and got our pictures taken for reference.

My chances of actually getting a call back, I figure, are about nil. I was given #1688, suggesting that there were at least 1600 people before me in line. And they're just going to go through the photos and pick the first 1000 (or however many) people they need that fit whatever basic visuals they're shooting for. A certain percentage of women versus men, different ratios of races and ages. I'm going to try to second-guess what they're looking for, but I do know that there were enough people there on Day One (with another casting call tomorrow) to more than fill the spaces they need. So are they going to even bother calling the generic white guy who got kind of burnt by the time they took my photo? If they just go down the list to call the first 2000 people and if they assume the redness in my photo is just color-distortion of the camera (oddly, I cooked relatively evenly for some reason and there was no other red hues for comparison in the picture) they might call me. I'm not about to hold my breath, but it was still interesting from the education/experience perspective.

Here's a local news report covering the event (with a short ad embedded before it). If you look quickly, you can kind of see me checking my phone behind the guy in the purple shirt 8-9 seconds into the news clip.
Newer Post Older Post Home


Jeff said...

It sounds like this was similar to the casting call for the new Batman movie in Pittsburgh - I heard estimates of 9,000 people showing up for Batman. I hope you get the call! Do you know the name of the casting agency working on Avengers? I'd like to look 'em up.

The name listed on the I-9 they handed out is "Group Hug/Marvel Easter Prod."

A cool experience, no doubt. I had (almost) the same experience when they shot "War of the Worlds" in my neck of the woods back in '04, except I waited in line for about 15 mins. They called me that night and we shot for 16 hours. Got paid a cool $72 for a lot of running around up hills. Hopefully you'll get the call; the free catering's usually pretty good.

Jeff said...

The catering is almost always a highlight of a movie shoot. It's usually so good that it makes you question the priorities of society.