Media Studies and Production class hunts for actors for pilot projects

Theater students Matt Zarley and Jasmine Kojouri audition for a part in one of four pilots being created in the “Producing and Directing” class. (Photo by Joseph B. Schaefer)

For weeks, the students in the “Producing and Directing” class taught by Assistant Professor Kristine Weatherston, MSP, have been perfecting the scripts of their pilot television shows.

On March 8, it was time to bring their characters to life.

The class, offered by the School of Media and Communication’s Department of Media Studies and Production, opened the doors to TV Studio 1 and 2 in Annenberg Hall to welcome 58 actors from Temple and the Philadelphia area hoping to find the perfect person for each role.

The shows range from “Sleep Where You Fall,” a dark comedy that blurs the lines between dreams and reality, to a comedy simply titled “Slackers.”

As the crew for “The Valley” prepped for the four-hour day ahead of them, they made sure all the details were taken care of: everyone had the latest version of the script (which was still being revised the night before), the camera had extra batteries and each person knew the part they were to play when the actors arrived.

“The Valley” was written by Luke Proctor, a sophomore media studies and production major. The show centers around a 23-year-old guy trying to ride out his high school popularity as long as possible.

“I have a lot of connection with my hometown. There’s a lot of kids who don’t advance in their lives like everyone here at Temple does,” he said. “There’s no story about them. They end up as our working class and no one knows what happened to them.”

Before the first actor took her spot in front of the camera, Proctor was optimistic about the day ahead.

“Today, this is the easy part for me. I’m just going to be sitting with my partners, just seeing who’s the best,” he said. “I really don’t think it’s going to be that hard finding actors. I feel that it’s going to fall right into our laps.”

One of the actors hoping to fill a role in “The Valley” was Raul Gomez, who is trying to break into acting and comedy later in life.

“You’re never too old to achieve some things,” he said on his way out of the audition.

Gomez looks forward to the possibility of working with students, who also are at the start of the journey toward their passion. “I’m a part of a team. We have the same goals, except that I have to follow their lead.”

Practice for the Future
With parts being cast in four different shows, media studies and production major Ashley Lewis helped throughout the morning as the casting director, ensuring those who were casting saw the right actors.

“I’m really interested in being a producer or a casting director,” Lewis said when asked to peer into her future. “When I was younger, I went to a lot of auditions and I became really interested in looking at different parts and seeing what people would … fit the role.”

As the day drew to a close four hours after the students arrived in the studios, Evan Lescallette, a junior media studies and production major behind “Sleep Where You Fall,” and his team were happy with their options.

“We found a lot of great people today. Some parts had just way too many good people, and that’s kind of a problem right now. We’re deliberating a lot,” he said. “It’s really nice to see someone say the words that you’ve written down, because they look unnatural on paper, but when you hear somebody, especially someone who looks how you hoped for the character to look, it ends up sounding a lot better, and you’re like, ‘Wow, maybe this could actually be a good show.’”