Film Courage: Where did you grow up?
Cole Walsh: Rochester, Minnesota. My home was a very loving one. My parents encouraged me in just about every way imaginable.
Film Courage: Which of your parents do you resemble most?
Cole: We have a painting of my mother when she was around ten years old. When I was young, the resemblance was so striking she used to stand me next to the painting while friends and family would ooh and ahh. Now that I’m a little older, I think I look more like my dad.
Film Courage: Did your parents lend support toward creativity or encourage another type of career/focus?
Cole: Yes, they were incredibly supportive of my creative efforts. I think they worried like any parents would about the typical things like financial stability and paying bills and such.
Film Courage: What were your plans after high school?
Cole: I think it was always in the cards that I would study something in a creative field at a college or university level.
Film Courage: Did you go to film school?
Cole: I went to a private college with a theatre program and a film program. I got my degree in theatre while taking film classes as well.
Film Courage: When did you get involved with theater? What was your first job at a theater?
Cole: As soon as I could speak I was performing for others. I had a lot of acting roles in youth theatre, and community theatre. My first job at a theatre was writing the music for a theatrical production.
Film Courage: From that point forward, how much time would you spend at the theater?
Cole: From the time I was about 6 or 7, I spent as much as was allowed by law. I think if I didn’t have to go to school, I would have been hanging around the theatre all day. Sometimes because I was doing youth theatre, we would give afternoon performances for schools and I would spend all day at the theatre—and not have to go to school. Bonus.
Film Courage: What inspired the idea for your documentary AUDITION SECRETS?
Cole: By the time I had earned my college degree, I had been involved in theatre for about 20 years. That’s a lot of auditions. I actually enjoy auditioning for the most part. I like the discovery of it, but I still find it a very mystifying process. I thought maybe if I could get some perspective from a few directors in my community, I might be able to demystify the process a little, or at least give it some perspective.
Film Courage: What does living in Korea for a year have anything to do with making a documentary in Minnesota?
Cole: Nothing. An odd series of events transpired. A college chum of mine had gone to South Korea in order to pay off some student loans. I was living in Minneapolis, I had just quit my day job, and I was just about to emcee an event I organized to raise money for my mother’s cancer treatments. Out of the blue, I got an offer to star in a feature film, then around midnight (because of the time difference), I got a call from my college friend who told me he was coming home from Korea and had turned a play I wrote into a screenplay. He asked if we could get together and work on it when he got back to the States. So, the fundraiser raised money, I acted in the feature film, then spent about a week working with my college chum, and he told me all about his experience in Korea. After a particularly brutal winter that year, I remember stopping in the middle of the street and shouting to the gods. I had made the decision. I was off to South Korea!
Cole: Location was a hindrance. It’s hard to shoot a movie while you’re living in Asia, or Europe. Money seemed to me to be another, when I graduated in 2008 a job was hard to come by…for a lot of people. Sometimes just making a living and paying the bills is hard enough. But the main fear came out of one small thought, “I’m not good enough.” It had many forms, but that’s pretty much it. Who am I to ask these directors for their time? Even if I could get it together, I’m not good enough at film yet. On and on. After I got back from Korea, I went to visit Los Angeles to see how I liked it. I came back to Minnesota for the holiday season, and thought, “You know, I’ve asked enough people about this, and it’s been brewing long enough. I’ll just ask, and then if they say no, then I have my answer. Everyone I asked said yes, so suddenly, I had to do it.
It was in the editing and the forming of the film, that the most questions arose. It’s mainly because there’s no manual, really. There are great books and the like on filmmaking and making a film, but there are no instructions for how to make your film. So, you don’t really know how it’s going to turn out in the long run. And that’s where the fear comes in. So, I had a lot of conversations with friends in Los Angeles, and friends and family in Minnesota. I also watched “Hoop Dreams” and “Heart of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse” a lot, just to remind myself what I was actually working on and to help put things in perspective, lots of Tony Robbins and episodes of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”
Film Courage: Once you began making the film, how often would fear return? Did you use the same method to push forward?
Cole: Shooting the movie, was no problem, really. In shaping the footage into a film that people could see, there was a snag associated with just about every step of the process. Stamina is the name of the game, so I definitely learned to celebrate the small victories.
Cole: Poorly. This was mainly due to the length of time it took to complete the film.
Film Courage: Where did you shoot interviews? What did you use for ‘B’ roll footage?
Cole: I left it up to those who were being interviewed. Most were done at the theaters themselves, a few were done in the homes of the directors. For B roll, there was some shot during the interviews, but I was fortunate that a lot of the photographers that had shot for the respective theaters were very willing to lend their work to the film, which I think really helped make it real for me, if that makes sense.
Film Courage: What camera(s) did you use? How did you know you had the right camera to film this story?
Cole: Canon T3i (600D). I have no idea if this was the right camera to tell the story, but it definitely served its purpose. I was very impressed with the quality.
Film Courage: AUDITION SECRETS features interviews with over 15 with highly-respected, well established directors, so we can only imagine the wisdom you gained making the movie. Taking that into consideration, what are 3 things you would like actors to know about the audition process?
Cole: Prepare yourself as much as you can, learn about the show you’re auditioning for and the people who are going to be your audience that should influence all of your choices. It shouldn’t define your choices, though. Do what you want in a way that shows you off. The people watching your audition want you to succeed, as much as it may feel the opposite; they want to choose you. Your only job is to show them why you are the best choice, indeed, the only choice.
Film Courage: Will an actor who watches AUDITION SECRETS book more acting work?
Cole: It’s a hard thing to measure, but all the tools, the insights are there presented in the film, what the actor chooses to do with those tools is up to him or her. I think if an actor chooses to apply the advice of those featured in the film, it will make the audition process easier, they will have more work, and it will be better.
Cole Walsh is an actor, writer, director, composer and musician whose work has been seen all over the world. He now divides his time between Los Angeles, Minnesota and Ecuador and persists mainly on grit and ramen noodles. Check out Cole’s prior Film Courage post ‘How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Tony Robbins.’