Thursday, May 8, 2008

Cinema Snapshots

Screen tests are used to evaluate an actors suitability for a specific part. Usually shot alone in front of a fixed camera, the actor is given a series of questions and prompts by the casting director who scrutinizes their physical appearance and personality. Old Hollywood screen tests were often silent, used simply to examine how an actor or actress would look on screen. In the 1960s Andy Warhol filmed a series of silent, celebrity screen tests in this style, creating a series of living portraits of artists like Salvador Dali, Bob Dylan, and Alan Ginsberg.

By their very nature, screen tests are awkward and intimate affairs and buried deep in DVD extras and archival footage you can find early auditions - both failed and successful - that provide a glimpse of the process that makes or breaks an actor. Below is a playlist of seven famous screen tests. They range from newcomers like Jean-Pierre Leaud searching for his first break to Greta Garbo's final footage as she tried to make a comeback.

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