By JACOB TRASK
The film department at UT is a quietly overlooked branch of our school, where creative young minds spend countless hours putting together their best attempts at experimental films. Students from classes like narrative and documentary production spend entire semester’s putting together a 10-minute project, a process that can be incredibly demanding and strenuous. They use each others’ skills as resources: one friend on the boom mic, one friend holding the camera, and another friend as the subject. But when a film student has to rely on their friends to be the main actors of the film, the result is often worse than expected.
The lack of actors available to UT film students has made things difficult for upperclassmen in the department, so senior film and media arts major Stephen Ford found and executed a potential solution. With help from an actor friend, Ford set up a Facebook group called “UT Film Casting,” with the intention of connecting local actors with filmmakers at UT. Over the summer, the group grew to over 90 members, including about 50 actors from around the Bay area. Once the new semester began, Ford set up a Facebook event, inviting actors to an audition at UT.
The audition was held last Friday and Saturday at Reeves Theater after weeks of advertisement. A camera was set to run in the theater, and actors were asked to act out chunks of scripts written by UT students. Around 15 actors showed up to audition over two days. Three hours of auditions on Friday and six more on Saturday made for a decent sample of the talent that Tampa has to offer.
Ford said he was slightly disappointed in the number of actors that showed, but hopes the event will be helpful to some, and will be the start to a new unity between UT and the local acting scene.
“We’re definitely going to try and keep the group growing so maybe next time we have an event like this it will make a bigger impact,” Ford said.
Ford’s actions have the potential to really shake up the film department. A growing community of actors involved with the program would make the quality of student films far better, and would make it easy for film students to have faith is their coworkers.
“Sometimes [students] are forced to cast friends or random classmates who can’t act, just to complete a project on time,” Ford said. “My goal is to put an end to this. Hopefully the auditions event at Reeves can help FMA majors, especially less experienced underclassmen get in touch with real actors who can bring their ideas to life.”
The event provided a valuable resource to film students. “The footage we got from these auditions will be made accessible to the entire department as a casting resource for film students to find the talent they need,” Ford said. There will likely be more casting events in the future, in hopes of building a stronger relationship between UT film students and the local acting community.
Jacob Trask can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org