By Seana Sperling
I did something today I have never done before; I auditioned to be on a game show. Now you may say, "Seana Sperling on a game show? Nevah!" This is how I got into this position: My friend Vicki calls me and tells me she has found my dream job. She gives me the details of becoming a contestant on The Ultimate Film Fanatic and I go to the IFC website to find out more. Even though it's an audition for a game show, my interest has been raised because it is a film trivia game. I fill out a form via email.
The next working day I receive a call from a woman named Kristen who asks me several trivia questions. The first I get completely wrong-Question: What was the AFI pick for best American film? My answer: The Seven Samurai. Er, that's a Japanese film and I knew that because it's one of my favorite films! I don't know what I thought she was asking me. I heard AFI and my mind started spinning-"AFI? I thought this was IFC? What the?" I'm still thinking this as she goes into the next question, which I found relatively easy. I later missed: What's the name of the pill-popping mom in Requiem for a Dream? My answer: Diane Wiest-Correct answer: Ellen Burstyn. (Crap, I knew that too. Dammit Jim. I need more time.) Also, when they asked about a comic book by Daniel Clowes that was made into a film, I said "American Splendor," then later said "No, Ghost.Something!" (Crap! This game show stuff is brutal.) I made another blunder, but it was such a stupid mistake that I blocked it out. Now you may say, "And you call yourself a film freak?" but even with the huge blunders, I made it through the test. She said I had passed and to show up for the 1:00pm auditions on Wednesday and that she would send me some forms to fill out.
I received these forms via email and one was a depiction authorization disclosure something or other-translation that I would waive my rights to complain about however I was to be depicted on screen. So, if they decided to show me acting like a complete fool, they could. Eeeek! Well I signed all these crazy things even though the Piper Laurie side of my brain is saying, "They're all gonna laugh at you!" They will. I know this to be true from past experience.
I show up about twenty minutes early because I expected throngs of people, filling the sidewalks surrounding the Meridian. I walk through the almost empty lobby and am guided to an even emptier second floor by a young usher. "Was there a bomb threat?" I'm thinking. Evidently there are only 25 film freaks in Seattle and we all passed the quiz.
The usher asks me to have a seat.
The IFC staff return from lunch and begin to check everyone's paperwork to organize the auditions. I start comparing notes with some of the other film freaks and find that I would probably last only one round with some of these people due to their knowledge, but mainly because of their poise. (You see I have none.) We all lined up, and because of my obsession with punctuality, I was unfortunately at the front of the line (which I relinquished immediately to a guy name Bob Suh who was a lot more composed). When I finally skulked into the audition, my voice started shaking and I became even more self-conscious then I am normally. (This is a tough trick.). They asked me about my movie memorabilia and I'm not exactly a collector, so I showed them a lame photo of my camera collection and the action figures I had stuffed into my bag just before leaving the apartment. Then they asked a couple of questions from my questionnaire such as, why I liked Jim Jarmusch (my lovely) and why I hated Titanic. I became inarticulate to the point of being mistaken for a beginning speaker of English. (A performer, I am not.) I think I was in the audition room for three seconds before they hit the eject button. (They didn't even ask me about my favorite line from a movie and we'd been asked to think of one earlier. Ah well.) I hope I only make it to the cutting room floor and not as a cameo-idiot appearance. I kept thinking about this as I shuffled down the stairs of the Meridian Theater.
Feeling failure, but still reluctant to leave, I looked back at the other contenders, patiently awaiting their run through the briars. I looked around for Bob, but he'd already gone. He hadn't missed one question on the trivia quiz and was very articulate. He also collected something, so I'm sure he is a contender and not a big fat loser like me.
So dear readers, if you are watching IFC and see someone mumbling something barely audible or possibly just incomprehensible about Jim Jarmusch, be kind.