More than 500 people packed the parking lot in front of Pet Extreme Monday evening, vying for a role in a Corbin Bernsen penned and directed romantic comedy film, set to be shot in Turlock.
And standing last in line, far across the parking lot, almost to the entrance of the Home Depot, was me.
That's right: I, too, was drawn in by the allure of stardom, of the chance to see my face on the big screen. Or at least the chance to write an article about my failed attempt at fame, as the case may be.
My fatal error, it seems, was arriving at 5:48 p.m. – just 12 minutes before the open auditions were set to start. The man first in line, Robert Fourre, told me he arrived nearly six hours earlier, right at the stroke of noon.
“I was sure that there were going to be 1,000 people when I got here,” Fourre said.
Fourre rattled off a laundry list of acting and film experience. He's been in short films, in local productions, in the Twain Harte Film Festival.
He is, in short, a seasoned veteran.
I, like most of the people in line, have no such experience. As others leafed through stacks of headshots and acting resumes, I thumbed through pictures of kittens on my iPhone. Not exactly professional, sure, but far more cute.
Micheal Everett, founder of the Turlock Film Commission and one of the film's producers, was shocked by the turnout – vastly larger than the number of people who tried out for a role in The PreZcotts music video, shot in Turlock in 2011.
He warned me about the potential wait, as every single person in line needed to see Bernsen for a chance to be cast.
“It could take five hours if everyone gets one minute,” Everett said.
The line was, in two words and a suffix, Black Friday-esque.
As I chatted with those around me, some from as far away as Sacramento and Emeryille, we all had our own reasons for auditioning. Some wanted a shot at stardom. Others wanted to show their support for Turlock. And some were there because they wanted a job – sadly, the extra roles will not be paid.
We inched forward through the Disneyland-like line, nearing Pet Extreme before cattle-chuting back and forth, and back and forth, and turning around the side of the building toward a back entrance.
It was around this time that I decided I'd make an excellent scumbag jerk of a potential boyfriend – for the movie, of course. As the female lead Gwyn bumbles her way to finding Mr. Right, my smug self-righteousness would be perfect for a one-liner.
Yet the braggadocio of some nearby auditioners quelled my optimism. One claimed he would take all the roles for himself, the nerve.
Finally, at 8:01 p.m., roughly two hours after I entered the line, I was handed a clipboard and a questionnaire.
We were asked to fill out some basic vital information, along with the odd inclusion of a “Special Skills” column. While some struggled with what to write in that space, I instantly knew what to say: “Luxurious beard, extravagant hair, sharp wit.”
At the top of the page, we were asked to write “Extra” if we just wanted to fill out a scene, or “Role” for a speaking part. I initially wrote extra, quite modestly I must say. But then I decided if I'd waited in line for two hours, I'd might as well try out for a speaking part. So I added “role” in slightly larger letters, conveying my true potential as an actor.
My photo was taken – No. 358 of the night, with hundreds more still in line behind me – and then it was time for my magic moment. I entered the casting room, and sitting there was Bernsen himself.
He surveyed the room, asked where people were from. Then, in the span of about 30 seconds, he said where he saw each person fitting into the movie's storyline – one person had the right look for a street scene, another for the dating segment.
It seems that I, however, have the perfect look to play a hip gospel churchgoer. Who knew?
I left Monday night with no firm assurances of my role in the film. Everett said I'll hear back for sure in about a week.
But I must admit that I don't have high hopes for my dream role of a jerk boyfriend. With hundreds and hundreds of more qualified, arguably better looking people trying out for roles, I may not be the best fit as a quasi-leading man.
Instead, I'll be sitting there in the pews, filling out the scene. At least, hopefully.
Auditions continue from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. tonight at Pet Extreme, 2840 Countryside Drive, and likely hundreds more will be in attendance.