Last Friday evening, September 7th, hundreds of would-be stars lined up at the Holiday Inn, Oceanfront on 67th St. in Ocean City, MD hoping to have their dreams fulfilled. The crowd answered the open-casting call for the film Ping Pong Summer, which is set to begin shooting in Ocean City, MD.

The call was announced last week, revealing that Ping Pong Summer casting was looking for a few individuals to fulfill small speaking roles. One more prominent supportive role was that of the older sister of Stacy, the lead in the film. Additional details for roles were not provided—all ages were welcome to attend the call. As a result, everyone from small children—including some infants, all the way up to grandmotherly figures, were in attendance. In some cases parents, who had simply brought their children, ended up auditioning when it was disclosed that the production was in need of families.

For those who had never attended an open casting, the process came as somewhat of a surprise. Those interested in auditioning were to email for a time slot, ahead of time. Many people did, so much so that all of the time slots were actually filled up the day before. But, considering it was announced as an open call, a number of people just showed up. Consequently, all who attended were put in a line, not certain as to what the next step would be. All throughout the line, excited and curious hopefuls speculated as to what their chances were. One young man indicated he wasn’t worried, saying,

“Even if I don’t get a part now, I can at least be an extra, and that’s still getting a chance to be in a movie.”

Photo from the MD Coastal Dispatch shows framed picture of Susan Sarandon playing ping pong, a classic paddle, and a copy of the Ping Pong Summer script.

The next step turned out to be the assignment of a number— and then, more waiting until the number was called. By and large the greatest contingent of hopefuls was made up of teenage girls. Many rose to the occasion, dressing in their versions of what a typical outfit in 1985 may have looked like, although they couldn’t be too sure. One girl wondered out loud if her side-pony tail was properly done, another worried if her outfit was even from the 80’s.

Once a number was called, a member of the casting staff took a photo of the would-be actor or actress. Then came the questions…”How old are you?”…”Why do you want to be in a movie?” What it really seemed to come down to, regardless of outfit or even previous acting experience, was two key elements. First was whether or not the individual was within an age-range to fit one of the available parts, and if so, whether or not they exhibited a certain amount of enthusiasm.

More often than not during the second phase of the process, the opportunity to be an extra, rather than auditioning for a role, is what most people heard. Not surprising as the need to fill a few small roles was answered by hundreds of people.

The small percentage of people who were selected to audition had reached the final phase in the process—the opportunity to act on camera. The last room in the hallway, where all the hopefuls had waited for hours, was the actual audition room. Once inside, a member of the casting staff gave the actor/actress a scenario, sometimes involving role-play, or simply the opportunity to ad-lib, and then let the camera roll as the person performed. Those who auditioned were not told whether or not they had gotten a part that night. They are waiting hopefully for callbacks.

A few professional actors were present for Ping Pong Summer’s open call. But mainly it was people from all over the surrounding area just hoping for their one shot at fame. It isn’t too often that a movie is filmed on the Eastern Shore. The last was Runaway Bride, in Berlin, MD, a decade ago. Those who are holding out to see if their auditions earned them the right to join the cast which includes big names, Susan Sarandon, Amy Sedaris, John Hannah, and Judah Friedlander, won’t have too long to wait. Ping Pong Summer is set to begin shooting September 19th, in Ocean City.

For more information about Ping Pong Summer, check out this ShoreBread article: Ping Pong Summer's Writer-Director, Producer Discuss the Film, & Ocean City's Leading Role

Featured photo from the Ping Pong Summer Facebook page.