Monday, March 29, 2010

A Tale of Two Events, Part II

ShowBiz Expo East

Exhausted though I was from concentrating on 144 performances by the end of TRU's Saturday auditions, I'd have returned to watch more on Sunday had I not already paid to attend ShowBiz Expo on Sunday.

It had been a few years since I'd taken in the Expo--a trade show held on East and West coasts, featuring all kinds of equipment and services for those working in film and theater.

Now and then I'd gone to a panel at the Expo, but mostly I'd just cruised the exhibits, which are free. In my film school days, I remember being dazzled by major equipment on display, grabbing copies of Variety, Hollywood Reporter, and all manner of other trade publications, and talking with reps of film offices from Montana to Oklahoma to Connecticut.

Last time I showed up at ShowBiz Expo, after not having been in a while, I wasn't willing to wait an hour in the huge, slow line of those who hadn't paid for priority admission.

This year, I decided to spend the $10 required to avoid the line, and also paid for a panel, a directory of attendees, and the after-party.

I was shocked by the difference since my last visit. The exhibition space had shrunk--and where were Hollywood Reporter, Kodak, and DuArt?

There were, however, many, many more vendors of services for actors than I remembered: headshots, workshops, etc. Ironically, I thought, given the opportunity TRU offered that very weekend, actors could pay for individual auditions.

The one panel I had paid to attend didn't match the description of what I had signed up for, and was, in effective, a promotional event for the two panelists' business, which should have been free.

I saw my fill of the exhibits in an hour or so and returned home.

The after-party, from 6:30 to 9:30 in a downtown lounge, had, for my taste, music that was too loud, light that was too low, and way too little food to accompany the open bar.

Luckily, I'd eaten a bit at the TRU auditors' reception, where I'd started the evening, and where, in retrospect, I should have lingered longer.

And I'd known that, arriving at the Expo party at 7:30, I risked missing the food.

"What food?" said a guy who'd been there since the beginning, when I asked how the food had been. "They just brought out a couple of few platters like that one."

"That one" was a plate-sized tray of tiny egg rolls. Maybe 20 minutes later, I encountered another of miniature, highly salted cakes of something meant to be crab.

I spoke with a beginning actress who had auditioned with her sister. "It wasn't what I expected," she said. "There was one guy, who I guess was a producer. My sister and I did our thing, and he didn't say a word." I wondered how much she'd paid for the privilege.

The last person I spoke with at the party--an exhibitor--gave me his opinion of the organizers' attitude: "We need to extract as much money as we can from these folks, and we have one day to do it."

Sounds about right, I thought.

I won't be back.

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