Lights, camera, action

By Alex McNab

Hitting her Target

First agent, first audition, first time on TV, she hit her target in more ways than one. After three years of trying to get an agent, Autumn Witz ’15 is the star of a new Target commercial that aired May 13 on CBS, NBC, ABC and the CW.

The commercial begins with Witz’s character siting on a couch knitting with her grandmother. Witz then asks her grandmother for a piece of candy, to which her grandmother replies, “Of course, dear.” Once Witz reaches into the bowl, she discovers that the candy is really old and stuck together. Witz gives her grandmother a confused glance, and the commercial ends.

Witz, who has been acting since she was 5, had just started her homework after getting back from rehearsal for the middle school play, “Putnam County Spelling Bee,” when her mother told her that her agent had called and he had gotten her an audition.

“I actually thought that she was joking,” Witz said.

In preparation for her audition, Witz watched videos on slating, identifying herself in front of the camera, and practiced her line, “Grandma, can I have some candy?”

“Well I guess this is it,” a surprisingly relaxed Witz thought to herself the next day as she approached the casting building on Beverly Boulevard, she said.

The casting director was not the mean, serious person Witz’s mother had prepared her for, Witz said. He was very nice and told lots of jokes. He kept Witz for five minutes, making her repeat her line five times in different emotions, giving Witz confidence that she would be called back. She was called back, and the next day she repeated her line two more times, but this time there were only seven girls auditioning with her.

On March 12, Witz found out she had gotten the part.

“I was in a state of shock,” she said.

She told all of her friends and “Putnam County Spelling Bee” cast members that she’d gotten the part.

On Thursday, she was fitted for her costume. The costume designers put Witz’s hair in pigtail braids and a snail twirl. She wore a blue striped shirt, denim shorts, gray leggings, bright blue striped socks, a cherry necklace, a blue bracelet and beige shoes.

On March 20, Witz skipped school to shoot the commercial, which was filmed at the Universal Studios back lot on the historic set where “C.S.I.,” “The Muppets Movie” and “The Phantom of the Opera” were filmed.

The shooting finished in time for Witz to go back to school for “Putnam County Spelling Bee” rehearsal, although director Jim Doughan wasn’t pleased by her tardiness, Witz said.

“I hope that I can do more commercials,” said Witz, but she hopes to one day act in movies.

During the summer, Witz will be looking for an agent to get her auditions for TV and movie parts.

Three lines for Tween Girl

Emma Pasarow ’14 spent the evening of May 3 sitting in front of her television with half of her face covered by a pillow while she watched herself in a pink sweater playing Tween Girl behind Kiefer Sutherland.

Pasarow made her television debut on “Zone of Exclusion,” the eighth episode of the new Fox television series “Touch,” which is about a genius kid who can see patterns that connect the world’s people and events. She heard about the part from a friend’s father, who is the assistant director of the show.

“It was less than a second and anyone could’ve done it,” she said. “They saw this part, Tween Girl, and he knows that I like to act, so he just asked me if I wanted to audition.”

Because it was an extra, there were only two other girls present at the audition, both about Pasarow’s age and height. The three girls stood in a line and acted as though they were flirting and texting the three boys across from them, who were supposed to be their boyfriends.

As the auditions took place, the assistant director watched from behind, and after talking with the director, he told Pasarow she had gotten the part.

“I had no expectations, so the fact that I got [the part] was like ‘Whoa, I can’t believe this is actually happening,’” Pasarow said. “I’m not really one to jump for joy, but in my brain, I was. “

Filming started the next day.

“I was really nervous because it was my first time, and I was in the presence of Sutherland,” Pasarow said. “I didn’t want to disappoint anyone, and I wanted to make sure I did my best even though it was just 10 seconds.”

She worked two 10-hour work days.

“We just did it again and again and again,” she said. “It’s absolutely mind-blowing that we spent a whole day on two minutes.”

Despite the repetitiveness of filming, Pasarow said she was only bored during her legally mandated three hours of school.

“I was on Cloud 9 all day,” she said. “This is so cliché, but it was literally like a dream come true because I’ve never done anything like this. I’ve only dreamed about it, so even though I was doing it over and over again, I would’ve done it for 10 more hours.”

Originally, Pasarow didn’t speak in her role, but after Sutherland complained to the director, she was given three lines.

Pasarow said she thought she was on episode seven and believed she had been cut until she found out she was actually on episode eight, a week later. She didn’t tell any of her friends she would be on TV, but they eventually found out.

Pasarow’s parents called family and friends to inform them of her appearance.

“Seeing myself on the screen, that’s something I’ve never done before except for home videos,” she said. “I ended up not really liking it. I wanted to change everything from the way I said the line to my body language to my facial [expression], but I’ve never seen something that I’ve been in and liked it.”

Pasarow hopes to be a movie star, but she says that for now, she wants to focus on school. In the meantime, she is writing a script for the Playwright’s Festival with Grace Levin ’14 and plans to major in acting in college.

“This is probably the only thing I’m going to be doing for a while,” she said. “I want to enjoy high school, and I want to enjoy college and then enjoy acting.”

Pasarow still cannot believe she was on television, she said.

“It’s just not something that happens to people,” she said.