(Rant continues behind the cut for length-)
I got to the Italian Community Center about 12:50PM, having taken the afternoon off just to sample the experience of it. I didn’t have any particular hopes or expectations of being cast, although I did notice that older men were in a distinct minority, so there might have been an outside chance if they wanted a representative Milwaukee demographic--. There were about a dozen or so people already there (the first, I gathered, since 10:45AM or so) seated on benches in the corridor, pleasantly chatting and being orderly. A couple of others arrived just after me, and we had settled in when the first representative of Joan Philo Casting arrived, a young man, and apologetically told us we would have to wait outside the building--so we are looking at a three hour wait outdoors and it's 18 degrees. We all pretty gamely agreed, and took up spots on the pavement on the ICC's parking lot side. When the young man passed by me, I took the opportunity to casually ask him whose decision it had been to make people wait outdoors. He replied to me that the building was concerned about congestion, had spoken to his boss, and he had gotten these instructions. I said, what, it’s a casting call, what do they expect? He just shook his head. So, OK. People are pretty mellow. Channel Six shows up and interviews a couple of people in the line. People in line are very accommodating about other people getting out of line to go to their cars and get mittens, blankets, etc.
So, it's getting past 2PM, I've been standing around for an hour outside, and I have to go to the bathroom. No problem, think I, as people have occasionally been going in and out of the building for just that purpose for the last hour. I even heard the original young man give directions to where the restrooms were located to one of the people.
So I go in, and there's a different Young Man guarding the door, and he says, "I'm sorry, you can't come in."
Me: "No problem, I'm just going to the bathroom."
YM: "No, you can't come in even for that."
Me: "Since when, I've seen people coming in and out for that."
YM: "Yess-Apparently I was misinformed before."
Me: "So you are telling me the ICC won't let people come in to use the bathroom?"
YM: "Not if you're here for the casting call."
Me: "OK--in that case, I'm no longer here for the casting call, but I'm going to go in and give the ICC management a piece of my mind."
YM: "You can't go in."
Me: "I'm NOT here for the casting call and I can't go in?"
YM: "Um--well, OK."
So I go in, and the first thing, I use the bathroom, because I have a pretty good idea I'm going to get thrown out pretty soon. Then, I go the ICC office, which has a window view of the waiting line outside. After talking to the woman at the desk and the houseman, it becomes clear that the ICC is not the one making these cockamamie rules. They say it's totally under the control of the casting company. I say OK, and walk across the hall to the open door of the ballroom where the casting operation is getting set up. Of course the houseman follows me across and tells me I can't go in there. I say, they're treating the people like crap, and I want to give them a piece of my mind, then I'm leaving. Essentially I don't get anywhere with this guy who eventually offers to escort me out, so I leave.
Look, I know that they call these things "cattle calls" for a reason, but one had thought that the days of treating people who just want to be in pictures with stupid cruelty just because you can, were gone. I could even see it if it were some form of test (after all, the website at www.joanphilocasting.com does warn that being an extra can have downsides) IF they were reasonably up front about it. Nevertheless, I don't think anyone supervising working conditions for extras on a film would condone a three-hour wait in sub-freezing conditions with no shelter, warming, or access to the bathroom. What bugs me most is that the Joan Philo casting staff lied to me outright at two different times, blaming their bullshit on the ICC. If they lie about petty crap like that, what else will they lie about?
Note: I don't think the Italian Community Center covered itself with glory, here, either. They just absolved themselves from any involvement by saying that that's the way the casting company wants it, and then shielded the persons responsible from any complaint: not what I call good “community” service when the people outside freezing their feet are the local people who are the ICC’s everyday customers.
So, I went for the experience, and that's what I got. I really can't say that I expected any more, but I guess I had hoped for better. All of the above is true and correct as I experienced it.