Sunday, April 13, 2014

Open Casting Call - Henderson, KY

As you may already know, I'm a huge Amazing Race fan. Going to an open casting call has always been a dream of mine. You could imagine my excitement while I was searching "Amazing Race casting" on twitter and found this open call two weeks ago. My first task was to convince my wife to go with me, which I did, but that wasn't easy.

So, I woke up at 4:30 (30 minutes before my alarm) ready to get the day going. Henderson is about 2 hours away and I didn't know what kind of line to expect, so I wanted to give us some time to get in line. The call was scheduled from 10-12. We drove by the Ford dealership hosting the event at around 7:30 and we only saw a handful of teams. We decided to hit up Krispy Kreme in Evansville and then come back.

We arrived back at the dealership around 8:30. There was a line forming around the front of the dealership and we guessed that there were roughly 20 teams in front of us. We heard that a few teams had camped out, but we weren't certain. I chatted with a few teams around me in line while my wife stayed warm in the car. The first guy I talked to was local and didn't know much about the race. He was waiting on his teammate to show up. I also talked to a team in front of me. They were from about an hour away, but seemed to know the race a little better. All of us agreed that if anyone made it, we didn't want it to be the loud female hillbilly team. They were extremely annoying. After their camera time, they came outside and screamed "we nailed it!", which I doubt they did. 

Anyway, at about 9am, they made an announcement for everyone to come to the front for an announcement. This caused the line to become irrelevant, as everyone rushed to the front to see what was going on. They announced that they had a list of recommended questions to go by for your "interview."  I'm pretty certain that we were the only ones that declined the list. We did this for two reasons: I already had several lists of recommended questions on my phone and we weren't going to have the camera man ask us questions like they recommended.

Shortly after they handed out the list of questions, Mika Combs from Season 15 arrived and they started handing out numbered stickers as well as application registration forms. They started the numbering at 37. We ended up being about 25 or 30 spots back. They started calling 5 teams at a time inside the dealership at about 9:30-9:45. They filmed only one team at a time, but gave each team up to 5 minutes to get out what they needed to say. We found a pen and a place to sit down and fill out our paperwork. The paperwork included 5 pages, a basic contact info form for each team member, a release form for each member, and a page with a list of requirements.

While waiting for our #, Mika was walking around with someone from the local CBS station. They asked if anyone wanted to take a picture with Mika or if they had any questions for her. Of course, I spoke up and asked a few questions, but, at the time, we were more concerned with getting a number. We really wanted to get out of Henderson by noon in order to make a birthday party back home. While my wife started filling out the paperwork, I took off towards Mika to ask her some more questions. She finished the paperwork, I signed what I needed to sign, and we took off to get a picture with Mika. She was extremely nice and welcoming to everyone. (She was only given a day or two of notice because Mallory Ervin was originally scheduled to be there, but became ill and couldn't make it.) 

From here, we waited around for our number to be called. We found a group of chairs by the main entrance and talked to other waiting teams. This was a good location because we were able to watch the teams get called into the dealership as well as see any new teams to arrive. We met a father/son team that literally walked to the dealership from their homes. They were nice, but had limited TAR knowledge. In fact, the father asked a guy from the dealership where "Vallerie" was, referring to Mallory. Another team we met was a mother/son team from Alaska. Robert was the son, and we hit it off pretty good, making lighthearted jokes about other teams and about the race, and each other. Haha! Mika was walking around with her CBS44 escort the entire time, talking to all the future racers and offering advice and good luck. As we were waiting, we found out about the "refreshments" inside. As I walked up to a table with food inside, I couldn't believe my eyes, Amazing Race cookies!
These cookies were 'Amazing' and made by The Donut Bank, a local bakery. While I was inside, I also noticed a large Amazing Race sign. Mika was signing autographs and taking pictures at the sign.

We finally got our number called to go inside at about 11:15-11:30. Again, there were 5 teams at a time inside the dealership, while a 6th team was filming their audition. They would put one team "on deck", waiting close to the filming room while the other teams sat at tables and chairs, giving them time to cool off and relax before filming. When it was our time to be on deck, one of the local CBS anchors remembered me from earlier in the day. I had talked to her about her TAR badge and how I liked it. Well, she quickly walked over to me with a badge and told me to not tell anyone. I was extremely grateful and told her how much I appreciated it.
So, we were on deck. I heard the CBS lady talking to her camera guy about eating lunch and how many teams they had left. She mentioned that the last number they gave out was 122 and they were not taking any new teams after noon (it was now around 11:45.)  The camera guy didn't seem to like that idea too much, seeing as they had only filmed roughly 30 teams in the first 2 hours, with 60 more teams to go. I think part of this was due to the fact of not having a 1-3 minute limit, but that is just my thinking.

We waited just a minute or two for the two camera guys to shove some McDonalds fries in their mouth and then they called for us. We walked into an interior room with a black backdrop, some back lights, a large TV camera, and a microphone. We were asked to stand in a certain spot and tell the camera who we were, then answer some questions. That is not what happened. We did stand where they told us to, but I politely asked the camera man if I could do this "my own way", but if I needed help, he could bail me out with some questions. He agreed. I began with our names and where we were from. Then I poked fun at some of the other teams applying. We then told about our lives and why we would be good on the show. 3+ minutes later, we walked out and were handed a goodie bag that included CBS 44 and Dempewolf Ford swag.

On the way home, we thought about a thing or two we could have mentioned, but overall I felt it went really well. My wife felt she could have done more, but I was proud of her. It isn't easy staring into that huge camera and trying to talk to it like you are talking to a person. Honestly, this was one of the greatest experiences of my life. The weather was perfect, there weren't too many people there, Mika was great, and Dempewolf Ford and CBS 44 did everything they could to make it an enjoyable experience for everyone.