Student Henry Biltz shares his experience
By Kristina Marlin
Cleveland State University film students performed monologues on Oct. 11 and 12 as part of a required assignment designed to give students real-world filming experience for productions. For Henry Biltz, the experience was a welcome and exciting one.
Biltz is a first-year film major at Cleveland State on an acting and directing track. He has acted in school drama clubs since fifth grade and has memorized and performed monologues before, but never on film.
“I grew up down in Wellington, so about an hour or so from here, so we’ve never had any kind of filming equipment,” Biltz said. “So, for me, it was very, very different to go into a room with a few different cameras and a whole audio set up. It was a little frightening but not too bad. It was pretty exciting. I kind of liked it,” he said with a smirk.
The monologue he performed was also out of his comfort zone. It was from a scene originally featuring Alec Baldwin from the film “Glengarry Glen Ross.” He chose the monologue for the range of emotions present within the text, even though he has never seen the film. Instead, to get into character, he drew inspiration from other Alec Baldwin films and Daniel Day Lewis performances, as well as channeling his own emotions, which came naturally.
Being on film didn’t rattle Biltz too much, despite a few tumbles in his performance. He felt that the experience was a good stepping stone in learning the technicalities of filming and getting a sense for being on a real set. Biltz gives off a friendly and casual demeanor and aspires to be an entertainer.
“I guess in a way, mostly everyone who’s got a job is kind of keeping people going, and I guess an entertainer’s job is to keep morale up,” Biltz said. “If I think I can do that, I’ve succeeded.”
Biltz is a student in FMA 131, Intro to Screen Performance. The purpose of the course is to provide students with on-screen experience and a view of the filmmaking process from an actor’s perspective, regardless of academic focus, according to Valerie Temple, the administrative coordinator of the Cleveland State School of Film & Media Arts.
“By learning the actor’s process firsthand, they will then know better how to work with actors in whatever role they specialize in, be it directing, producing, cinematography or even editing,” Temple said.
The auditions are not open for public viewing, explained Richard Pitchford, a professor in the film school. The videos have not been posted yet, but when they are, they will be password-protected on vimeo.
They will eventually be uploaded onto TheAssist, a website Cleveland State film students use to cast their projects.
“FMA students can view them on TheiAssist as they are casting for their productions,” Pitchford said. “Actors who have auditioned, but are not currently FMA students, can request a link and password so they can view their auditions.”
If Biltz’s audition had been available for the public to see, it would probably come with a parental advisory.
“Well, mine was rather vulgar, in a certain sense. We were told by our teacher that we were allowed to use whatever kind of monologue we wanted,” Biltz said with a chuckle. “It’s a different atmosphere from where I’ve grown up, so you’ve got to watch what you say at some points.”