The Accidental Actor

It's often the external factors that dictate the internal decisions and it's especially true when it comes to children. They are continually ruled by parental forces, school schedules and the conflicting insanity of peers.

We chose, prior to the birth of any of our kids, to live in a neighborhood with a pool. It is the exact neighborhood I grew up in and the same pool I swam in as a kid, only the water has changed. This predetermination meant that as our kids were born, they would eventually need to learn to swim as the pool is where we, as parents, determined our kids would spend their summers. They had no say in the matter and with the will of our Au Pair, they were thoroughly immersed.

Being responsible parents, we thought it wise the boys knew how to actually swim in their summer environment. The options were private lessons or an organized free-for-all which was supervised and run by members of the swim team. We opted for the free-for-all which grouped kids of similar age and ability together. Our expectation was they would learn to swim and have fun while doing it. What we got was so much more.

We didn't realize it was a cleverly designed recruiting program for future swim team members. We learned of it when our eldest came home from lessons one day and informed that he was capable of swimming 25 meters and was now a part of the swim team. We thought it to be some sort of misunderstanding. It wasn't. Over the course of two more years, the process was repeated two more times with his brothers. All three boys went from fear of drowning right into to the cornerstone of all young swimmers' thoughts, fear of the backstroke. Their entire world of knowledge surrounding actual swimming was not that of a leisurely pursuit but a competitive endeavor for which they had unwittingly been groomed.

With fear of water out of the way, the eldest two turned their sights to the diving board and taught themselves how to do flips. One summer evening while the boys were at it on the boards, a teenager approached us and asked if our boys could join the dive team. The thought had never occurred to us or the boys but since we had predetermined the pool to be their summer domain, we signed them up. Thus, we spend every July consumed by, dedicated to, and in service of, all things pool related.

At the end of one recent season, the dive representative for our team, sent out a message that a casting agent was looking for someone that could dive to be in a movie.

The solicitation read as follows.
An award winning Indie Director is looking for the following to appear in her latest movie/ PAID. Please message me if you know anyone suitable for this role.


AGE: 6 (an actor who is older, but can appear or play six is preferred)


RACE: Caucasian

ATTRACTIVENESS / FITNESS: Pudgy. A little overweight. Out of shape. Someone who’s spent way too many hours indoors playing video games. Pale skin. Long hair. Red or bright blond hair preferred.

SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS: Must be comfortable appearing on camera in a bathing suit. Must be comfortable diving or falling off of a high diving board. Must be able to swim and hold his breath underwater .

SPECIAL QUALITIES: An uncertainty. A hesitancy. A whininess. A distinctive vocal quality. Smart. Perceptive. A keen observer. A hint of geekiness. Someone who’s been bullied. Someone who’s been ignored. The last kid to get picked for sports.

Wife and I both got the email and separately thought why not throw the little boys at this and see what happens.

I responded to the casting director as follows.

We have an 8 and 10 year old that have an affinity for water. They are both blonde and not exactly skinny, not totally pudgy either but can expand their stomachs on demand. The younger one feigns a British accent on occasion. We will be in Hawaii for three weeks in August so they will have a serious tan which doesn't fit your pale expectation at all. If any of this works for your upcoming movie role, let us know.

I was selling the truth with that message and left out the numerous other qualities that should have exempted them from consideration. Apparently it was just what the casting director wanted to hear. She asked for a photo of the boys and shortly after that she asked for a Skype interview for the boys to read over the script.

On an early August morning in Hawaii, we connected with the casting director and watched as the boys read through the script. Wife and I didn't let on but we both thought silently that what we were watching was a textbook example of how not to get an acting job. It was a slow motion train wreck in which the boys gave one word responses to the director and appeared to be utterly unenthused about reading lines in general. We conferred later that a miracle would be necessary for either of them to get the gig. Having no acting experience and no expectations, a miracle did take place a few days later and our middle son was offered the role.

The filming for his parts took place on one of the hottest days on record in September. We spent twelve hours on set outdoors and watched as true professionals guided cameras, equipment, script and actors through scene after scene and take after take to produce six minutes of footage. It was a fascinating experience with a wonderful group of people and not only did our son get a prominent role but his brothers also got to partake as extras in the pool. They're easy to spot. They're the ones looking totally natural, doing what all novice extras do, staring directly at the camera.

The film was shown at the APA Film Festival in 2017 and is viewable at the link below.