I'm a member of SAG-AFTRA, and the union offers the opportunity for you to be on the SAG Awards Nominating Committee. It's a random drawing sample of 2200 members, who review For Your Consideration materials and vote on the nominees.
The For Your Consideration materials may be DVD screeners, iTunes digital screeners, and screenings in theaters. Receiving the DVDs in the mail is pretty exciting. I love snail mail, so this phase felt like Christmas. Every day, I was getting DVDs and promotional items. As a paid-up member of the union, you receive some of these materials after the nominations and during the actual SAG Awards voting period. I will admit that it was awesome being able to watch the movies early though.
The August: Osage County package even included a pop-up doll house. I did feel slightly bad about the waste from the cardboard and brochures sent out to us.
The other amazing part of being on the Nominating Committee is the access to screenings and Q+A's with the actors. You also get to bring a guest with you! Some of the screening are strictly for members of the Nominating Committee, though others are open to all union members and just give priority to the Nominating Committee. It made it so much easier to get tickets into the screening without waiting in line for a horrific period of time. However, I did get completely closed out of the screening of American Hustle with a Q+A including the cast and director. That would have been fantastic to check out.
I do want to share my experience of the Q+A's that I did attend. I tried to provide some documentation for you guys, but a lot of the pictures came out terrible.
My first Q+A was for Rush with Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl. The actors joked around a lot. Daniel was lamenting how Hemsworth got to look like a ladies' man and had all the sex scenes with hot women while Bruhl had all the grueling scenes (not to mention he had teeth prosthetics that made him look like a rat to mimic the protruding teeth of the real Niki Lauda). Bruhl got asked if he enjoyed working on German or American films more. Daniel said there was a time when Germany was making good quality movies. But in recent years, Germany has been attempting comedies. Daniel stated, "And we all know that Germans do not have a good sense of humor".
The Q+A for Blue Jasmine (GREAT movie!) was with Bobby Cannavale and Andrew Dice Clay. The actors spoke about how Woody Allen didn't really give them direction on who the characters were...they didn't even receive the entire script. No rehearsals. Bobby actually met up with Sally Hawkins to rehearse and discuss the movie (she got the full script). Woody just expected them to do what he hired them to do: act.
Woody Allen was open to ideas. It was actually Cannavale's suggestion to kiss Cate Blanchett in the scene where Chili and Jasmine first meet at the pier. Woody loved it, and he told Bobby not to warn Cate before the scene. I believe that was the take they used in the movie.
An actor asked Bobby if it was difficult to emotionally prepare for the grocery store scene. Bobby said no. He just does it. I like how confident is when it comes to his craft.
On the other hand, Andrew Dice Clay said he felt more insecure. Here he was with an amazing cast. The comedian felt like he could totally mess up at any moment. (By the way, I thought he was did really well.) Clay also mentioned that he was too intimidated to bring up suggestions to the director. So he got his own son to ask Woody Allen about changing some things in a scene!
The two fun facts I took away from the Q+A for Prisoners with Jake Gyllenhaal, Melissa Leo, and director Denis Villeneuve were that Jake gave himself the eye blinking tick for his cop character and Leo wore a fake butt. I guess that makes sense. Melissa was playing a much older woman, so she got a much older posterior to inform her movements. Leo initially was terrified of the role of Holly, and had even turned it down before she met with Denis. Even after she accepted the part, she was still uneasy when she arrived to set a little before filming. Leo then grew to love Holly so much that she was using Holly's voice even off-camera. Jake joked around, saying, "That was so fucking creepy."
FYI: Jake Gyllenhaal looked VERY dapper.
The screening and Q+A for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was held in a massive theater. I was super tired that night. But the highlight of the Q+A was one actress standing up and boldly asking Ben Stiller if he would take her number, alluding to the theme of the movie being that we should take more risks in life. Stiller accepted. Go, girl!
The Q + A with Christian Bale for Out of the Furnace was really intimate. I was like RIGHT THERE. I even asked him a question: "What scene most resonated with you and what was the most challenging part in doing the film?" Of course, I added that he's Christian Bale and he's amazing, so he may not have experienced a challenge. He was very gracious about compliments. At one point, he even playfully asked if anyone else had a compliment for him.
Anyway, his answer to my question was that it was an honor to do scenes with Casey Affleck, Sam Shepard...and he continued to name so many people in the film. He loved the work that a local actor Bingo O'Malley did as Bale and Affleck's father in a scene in which O'Malley is basically silent. Bale also spoke about the heartbreaking scene on the bridge with Zoe Saldana. He said the director just kept doing take after take, and Bale mentioned that he wondered why that was, but he kept doing it. But he said that every take was unique and better than the last. A challenge was that Christian was ill during the scene in which he was in the house with Woody Harrelson. But appearing uneasy worked out well since it was a creepy crack house.
There is a scene in which Bale basically pummels a phone receiver into its cradle. That action was not planned. I believe he hurt his hand. But Christian said that after the take, Sam Shepard was like, "Wait, I think we need to do it again. I had the wrong tea cup in my hand." What a jokester.
One thing I recall from the Saving Mr. Banks Q+A with Emma Thompson was that she hated the perm she had for the movie. She was so funny and endearing during the interview. I love her. I've said it before, but I wish she were my mom. In my fantasy world, she'd be my mom, and Louis C.K. would be my dad.
Anyway, an actress was curious how Emma prepped for a scene in which Thompson's character is crying in the theater while watching Mary Poppins. Emma said that she just tries it out. She sees what happens when the camera rolls and hopes that it works out. I guess she really trusts herself. Ah, what a fine quality to have as an actress.
When she entered the room, the theater was still dark. Emma Thompson quipped, "Are we doing a seance?" And of course, I was rolling on the floor. Because don't you know...I love her.
A lot of people disliked or weren't comfortable with the over-the-top antics of The Wolf on Wall Street. I thought it was perfect. Wasn't it reflective of the hedonistic and self-indulgent ways of the Jordan Belforts of that era? It WAS non-stop stimulation. However, I was thoroughly entertained.
I thought the acting was great. Jonah Hill was terrific. And his character's teeth basically need their own Twitter handle.
DiCaprio said the speeches he made in the movie were super pumped up by the extras. He fed off of their energy. Leonardo also studied a YouTube video of "The World's Drunkest Man" as research for his scene in which he was drugged up on Quaaludes. (EPIC scene- and I don't throw that term around.)
I loved being part of the Nominating Committee. Unfortunately, once you are a member, you can't be on the committee again for 8 years. I will gladly do it then!
The SAG Awards will air live today at 8pm EST on TBS and TNT.
The SAG Awards will air live today at 8pm EST on TBS and TNT.