The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Is talent enough?

In the past week, I have been invited to audition for a film. It is quite a big film, in that there is a Hollywood partner involved, with a local company. It would be great to get the role...

The audition went well. The Casting Director said of my performance: “You are one of the best actors we have seen.” So, he likes my acting. However, he went on to say: “However, I am not the one who makes the decisions.” He only presents the possibilities to the Director and his board...but does not himself decide whom to cast.

Now, I have had experience of casting in Asia, before. Perhaps my remarks apply to casting everywhere. In the past, I have had Casting Directors say that my acting was great...but that they were looking for “someone blond”, or were “going for looks”. In other words, they were casting for APPEARANCE, over substance. This was a particular problem in Singapore, where it was quite possible for a casting person to choose an incompetent, non-actor, who looked good, over an experienced actor, who didn’t fit their “look”, requirements. Of course, the result of this kind of casting was that, sometimes, the performances that resulted were really bad – the entire integrity and quality of the work was compromised. Yet, the production people never seemed able to see this as a problem. They didn’t realize that their superficiality was damaging the resultant work.

The film I cast for this week has definite promise. I have seen the art material and the intended look of the work – it looks like it is going to be stunning in that sense. That, however, worries me a little. You see, if they are too much concerned with look, then they might not choose me, because the role I would like is for someone who is more muscular than I am, supposedly. So, if they focus too much on looks, they might choose a gym rat, over me. That, however, would be a mistake, I think, from the point of view, of securing the best performance in the role – that, I am sure, I can deliver.

I see this period as a test of the production. If it is focussed on looks, then they might choose someone else. If it is focussed on the best performances possible, then they are likely to choose me, given what the casting director has said. If the former, then they are making the classic Asian casting mistake and this is likely to be a compromised production, that is less good than it could be. If, however, they choose my performance, they are aiming for quality of performances and the film is likely to be a very good one. I hope it is the latter: we shall see.

I shall keep you informed as to which they choose.

To answer my own question, I would to say that, often, talent is not enough. An actor can be brilliant at acting and still not chosen for a role. It might be decided that they are too young, too old, too fat, too thin, too muscular, not muscular enough, too dark, too light and so on. Once they start placing too much importance on appearance, there are a million reasons why a particular actor might not be chosen – even if, by their performance, they would be perfect for the role. Personally, I think the process is dumb: they are getting hung up on trivialities and not seeing the core. They should cast the core, and ignore the minor disparities at the edges – after all, styling can deal with some of them, anyway.

I hope to have good news soon.

Posted by Valentine Cawley

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 11:50 AM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish you all the best of luck with your casting, Valentine!

Perhaps one reason I became so disillusioned with the music business was because I realised that the quality of the material I was writing had no bearing on whether I would be able to break into the industry or not. Record company bosses didn't want a geeky little girl who could write well-crafted pop material. They wanted outrageous personalities, over-the-top hairstyles and fashions, and overt, in-your-face sexuality. So long as the "artist" ticked those boxes, he/she didn't even have to be able to sing.

It's not just the performing arts where this is encountered. I've come across it all the time in everyday business. I was actually turned down for one admin job I applied for because I supposedly didn't smile enough!

10:37 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes. The same attitudes that are destroying acting/films/drama are also destroying music. People are "cast" for all the wrong reasons, mainly to do with marketability - and the actual talent in question, be it music or acting, gets forgotten. We end up with beautiful idiots being presented to us as "talents".

Superficiality in all things, will doom our world. As you note, it is even present in the ordinary working world. Ridiculous.

12:03 PM  

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