Shen Wei once again shifted his gaze away from the audition room. As the minutes passed, his heart, which had required some effort to pacify, once more started to stir restlessly.
Does an audition require this much time?
Half an hour had passed, and that already exceeded their estimated time.
If it had just been a formality or if Roman had not been satisfied with Fang Zhao's performance, it simply would not have taken this long!
Unless... there had been progress?
The more he thought about it, the more Shen Wei could not sit tight. Every two minutes, he would take a look at the time. He had already drunk three cups of tea and had paced around seven or eight times, yet he still could not calm down and was growing even more jittery instead.
When there was expectation, it would give rise to impractical thoughts and a loss of rationality.
When it came to anticipating, who wouldn't tend to think about the positive aspects?
Who wouldn't be willing to have a better result?
Roman was willing to give Fang Zhao an audition, which meant he also regarded Fang Zhao highly.
A director who loved taking risks and using fresh talent...
The more he thought, the more his heart beat faster. Shen Wei's fingers, clasped around the teacup, were also trembling slightly.
Although he wasn't the one auditioning, if Fang Zhao could really snag that role, as Fang Zhao's coach, the benefits that Shen Wei would gain would also be extremely attractive.
Shen Wei kept telling himself to calm down. Stay cool, calm down!
An hour passed.
Not only did Shen Wei's heartbeat not slow down, on the contrary, it was pulsating even more intensely. Both his fists were clenched—otherwise, his fingers would be trembling from the nervousness.
Shen Wei could not sit still, and he got up to pace around. After gulping down a few glasses of water and taking two trips to the washroom while telling himself to calm down, Shen Wei finally saw the sliding doors open. Shen Wei had only just sat back down when he shot straight up. He could not control his own legs as they took a few steps closer to the door.
Fang Zhao had just stepped out of the audition room. There wasn't any hint of excitement on his face, and this made Shen Wei calm down.
"...How was it?" Shen Wei asked with great difficulty. He had wanted to ask why it had taken so long and what exactly had happened inside. There was too much he wanted to ask, and he had only been able to force out these three simple words.
"Return back and wait for the results," Fang Zhao replied.
Shen Wei wanted to probe further but quickly realized that the location wasn't appropriate for doing so. Only after they had left Roman's place and were on their way back did Shen Wei find out about the details.
"The audition went rather smoothly. This sort of important role cannot be decided solely by Director Roman. He told me to return home first and wait for news," Fang Zhao explained.
"Oh, right, that makes sense." Shen Wei was much calmer now, and he understood. Although he had not gotten to hear the outcome he had wanted to hear and was a little disappointed, looking at things from a different perspective, as long as the role wasn't fixed, that meant there was still a chance.
"Then how long do we have to wait?" Shen Wei asked.
"Director Roman didn't say, but he did say that this matter would be decided within the week. In two days' time, he will be returning to Huangzhou to discuss and determine the actors for all the important roles," Fang Zhao replied.
Just as Shen Wei had told him, Fang Zhao did not worry about personal gains or losses. He had already done all that he could. Now all that was left was waiting for the results. Even if the results were not satisfactory, he would still accept it. At least he had tried his best, right?
"Oh right, why was the audition so long?" Shen Wei asked.
"At the start, he got me to do three scenes. After that, Director Roman spent an hour speaking to me about filming, then asked me to do another three scenes." When Fang Zhao said this, he was very thankful toward this famous director. Although this director had his own selfish desires, this also benefited Fang Zhao.
Shen Wei was surprised. "Director Roman spoke to you about filming?"
"He even shared some acting techniques that can be used in front of a camera," Fang Zhao replied.
Shen Wei could not help but break into a smile. "Not bad! To be able to receive the guidance of this famous director, it seems like he really thinks highly of you."
"Boss." Yan Biao spoke from the front passenger seat. "There has been somebody watching us continuously for the past few days. I noticed them when you were having your screen test. However, they kept their distance. Whoever it is, they are being very prudent."
"The bunch that Curly Hair bit?" Fang Zhao asked.
After returning from the cruise, Fang Zhao had learned from Yan Biao that Curly Hair had bitten a sneaky person who had been following them. However, Curly Hair had not bitten down with too much force. The other party had escaped very quickly and Yan Biao had been unable to catch them.
After that, Yan Biao and Zuo Yu had both asked Fang Zhao whether they should catch the person, but Fang Zhao had indicated that they need not bother.
Form Yan Biao's perspective, these bunch of paparazzi that followed them and tried to secretly film should be caught and beaten severely!
But it was obvious that Yan Biao did not understand these entertainment reporters' dedication to going about seizing news at all costs.
Shen Wei also did not approve of Yan Biao's suggested method of handling it. Besides, from what he saw, dealing with these entertainment reporters was not the most important agenda. The company's public relations teams were not just for show. The company's staff could keep an eye on things, and should any unsavory news appear, they would quash it. At this sort of time, the company would be more than willing to fork out cash.
"Fang Zhao, don't pay any heed to all this right now. Do read more books regarding acting and watch video guides online. You can ask me about any matters that you don't understand. Prepare Well!" Shen Wei advised.
Although he had not pinned too much hope on Fang Zhao... what if?
What if Fang Zhao was really selected?
As a new hand and a completely fresh talent that could not even be called an actor, what Fang Zhao needed to do was spend more effort honing his acting skills and be prepared to be called up to join the cast at any time. If he was really selected and could not keep up with the cast, he might be fired. If that were the case, he couldn't cry even if he wanted to!
"You can never defeat entertainment reporters. The more you fight, the more vicious they become!" Shen Wei told Yan Biao. "Let's not talk about other continents first. Just take a look at our very own Yanzhou. How many people in the entertainment circles have tried to feed those top few entertainment reporters to the fishes? But aren't they still living well and happy all day long?"
Shen Wei felt that, as a self-proclaimed precursor within the circle, he had an important duty, and he took the chance to impart some lessons to Fang Zhao. Even the bodyguards with him, Yan Biao and Zuo Yu, were unable to avoid this. However, what they learned was different. Shen Wei imparted professional knowledge to Fang Zhao, whereas he taught Zuo Yu and Yan Biao about some of the troubling matters that were commonly encountered within the circles and ways to deal with them.
Fang Zhao also attentively absorbed the techniques that Shen Wei imparted to him. Opportunities were always left to people who were prepared. Just as Shen Wei had said, before he even got a chance to be fired, he needed to make preparations to be ready to get selected at any moment.
Elsewhere, Director Roman was in a videoconference with his Huangzhou colleagues and was talking about the matter of Fang Zhao. However, he had not directly said which actor it was, nor the actor's background. All he said was that this was a very talented person who suited the role.
"You don't understand. When he stood in front of me, it gave me a really odd feeling. At that time, it coincided with the image of the role I have envisioned in my heart!"
"Stop finding excuses. Are you starting to get restless and trying to stir up something big again? I'm warning you, Roman, the 'Founding Era' project is to be a milestone. A milestone! Do you know what that means?! You should know how many people are eyeing this project. Understand its significance. You better work according to the rules!"
Despite being separated by their communications devices, Roman could still feel the other party's spittle flying all over.
"Got it, got it. All of you are just worrying groundlessly!" Roman exclaimed impatiently.
"You think I wanted to say all this? Roman, you have a record! If I hadn't said it, I wouldn't feel at ease! Remember well, this time, we are going about things in an open and honest fashion according to the industry rules. Don't stir things up. This project doesn't belong to you alone. There is still a Committee of 100 above you. Every single one of them will not be pleasant to deal with. Don't stir up any trouble. Otherwise, your position as the head director might not be stable."
"All right, how can I not understand all this? Cut the nonsense. Preparations over the last week have almost been completed. We have to fix the actors soon. Tomorrow we head out. See you at Huangzhou."
Ending the call, Roman's mouth twitched.
Follow the rules?
If there were no expressly stipulated rules, it was nothing but bullsh*t!
Roman was prepared to give these people a big surprise this time. He was indeed very satisfied with Fang Zhao's performance, so much so that the Fang Zhao character that Fang Zhao had played out was exactly the same as the image of Fang Zhao in his heart.
As for how for how much of a gamble Roman was willing to take, he would once again challenge the community's so-called "rules"!
"Please work hard!"
Roman knew how to guide a complete amateur to appear as a seemingly mature actor in a short time. Fortunately, Fang Zhao was extremely talented and great had perception. Although one hour was short, whatever essential points and knowledge he had spoken about, Fang Zhao had actually been able to completely grasp them!
The sort of feeling of unintentionally unearthing a gem was what Roman loved the most. At this sorts of time, he felt especially great about himself.
If industry outsiders were to watch all six scenes that Fang Zhao had recorded for his audition, they might not necessarily be able to see a difference, but the eyes of professional would be able to see a vast improvement, and they would find it difficult to find any minute errors.
If this was Roman's own movie, he would have decided right on the spot, but this was "Founding Era"...
"Committee of 100..." Roman had calmed himself, and he looked at the projection. He heaved a sigh. "Fang Zhao, this is all I can do for you."
The next morning, Roman brought his assistant and set off for Huangzhou.
The relevant parties had all been informed, and a time was set for the conference.
Huangzhou Art and Cultural Center's assembly hall.
The hall wasn't large compared to many other commercial meeting venues and was less presentable. The furnishings here might appear simple, but they were definitely not basic.
Here, the projection and sound equipment were of the highest grade in the industry.
There were not many seats, but everyone qualified to have a seat at the venue either held high positions or had impressive credentials. These were all people with status, important figures with power.
Roman took a look at the time. It was almost time.
A number of projections appeared at the venue in succession. The originally empty meeting place was filled with projections in less than 10 minutes. Near the front of the assembly hall was an area with larger seats, which was segregated from the other areas. There were over 100 seats in that segment, and they were nearly filled with projections.
"Everyone from the Committee of 100 is here. Let us begin."
The Committee of 100 were the people in the "Founding Era" project that had the power to vote for the actors of important roles in the series. Amongst these people, besides investors, there were production representatives, outstanding precursors, in the showbiz circles, direct descendants of the heroes from the period of destruction, and exceptional members from aristocratic families.
These people added up to a total of 100, which was why the group was called "The Committee of 100." Their position was the specially designated area closest to the stage.
Members of the "Committee of 100" were scattered in many regions, and there were even some that held positions that required them to spend extended time on foreign planets, so they were unable to return back to Huangzhou just because of this matter. Therefore, this would be an online voting conference, and it would be accomplished with the aid of holographic projections.
Just taking a look at the few clad in military uniforms and the general insignias on their shoulder epaulets would let everyone know how much of a big deal this was.
Roman's assistant cast a glance at the Committee of 100. Other than those few senior precursors of the industry that made his legs turn to jelly, the lowest-ranked military personnel among those clad in uniforms was a lieutenant colonel. Even he looked very young, and he would surely rise to a general in time.
Although it wasn't the first time Roman's assistant was encountering such a situation, every time he faced this, he was afraid of even breathing. His nervousness was at its highest point, and he was extremely observant and alert so as to not make any mistakes.
"Today we have to decide on three important roles. The first is 'Great General Wu Yan,' the second is 'Great General Ajina,' and the last... is 'Fang Zhao.' We shall first select 'Fang Zhao'."
Although 'Fang Zhao' was not a great general of the Founding Era, he was an integral character in that period of history. Without him, there would not have been a Yanzhou, and even Wu Yan might not even have survived. Nobody could deny the status of Fang Zhao in history. Therefore, although he wasn't a great general, he still was an important role with many scenes in this series, and selecting the actor for this role required the Committee of 100 to make a decision.
In the large screen at the front, Roman displayed the photographs of nine of the candidates he had selected.
These nine photographs had been taken after the actor had been dressed up and had makeup applied. A number of them looked like the Fang Zhao from history, and their faces had similar outlines. After makeup had been applied, it became very difficult to distinguish them apart.
There was also no indication of the names of the nine actors on screen, only the numbers from one to nine. These numbers had all been assigned randomly.
However, for people extremely close to these actors, they were still able to recognize them.
"These are the final nine I have selected," Roman told the Committee of 100 below the stage. "Just like the previous time, I will play the audition videos of the nine candidates, starting from number 1. Each candidate has three scenes, and the final vote result will determine the actor."