I’ve been a bit overwhelmed the last two weeks, so didn’t get the blog post last week. But so much has happened, most of it really great, that I need to do an update.
I created an ad that I put on dragonukconnects.com for the principal actors (the ad is behind a login screen, and is destined to be taken down shortly, else I’d provide a link). I was impressed when I started to get responses right away. The tapered off very quickly, though, and I probably had 95% of my responses within 48 hours. I’ve so far had 67 actors respond (I’ve got one or two a day after the first deluge). I’ve looked at lots of head shots, lots of resumes and lots of reels. I admit that people started to blur together, but I kept notes.
Of the total respondents, I choose to request an audition from 24. Quite surprisingly to me, I’ve only had responses from
1516. I gave them a 48 hour deadline to respond, so I guess they’re too busy to check their email. Of the 1516 that have responded, after I sent them very detailed (perhaps overly) information about me and my plans for the table read, rehearsals and principal photography, one said no thanks, she was too busy (which seems strange; I supplied the same basic information in the original ad, but I’m learning that not everyone actually reads the thing). I’ve scheduled 7 so far and am hoping at least a few more will follow through. Of course, they have yet to show up for the audition, let alone impress me. The next week should be interesting.
One of the respondents, when I reiterated about the requirements for the role (e.g., bikini shots and jogging in shorts and sports bra), felt my asking that was ‘creepy’ and didn’t want to be involved any longer. I asked her, by way of response, why did she bother to apply in the first place; just more evidence that at least some of the actors aren’t bothering to read before applying.
My very first response was from a woman who has a career doing weather on TV. She’s perfect for the role of Kayla, with the only caveat that my immediate impression was she didn’t look 20 or 21. I asked her a couple of questions, but have never heard back from her. I’ve read in so many places that actors, as a group, are flaky, but now it’s being driven home. I hope I can find some (at least four!) that are serious and committed, otherwise this will be an expensive experiment in failure. Well, I guess if I never film, it will just be a waste of time.
Two things were driven home by watching all the reel: I’ve read so many places that when you think you’ve got enough light, add more. I saw that clearly as so many scenes were often unwatchable because they were dark and muddy. Second: get a competent sound guy (I believe I have one), as crappy sound destroys the experience. One I watched was in a room with cinder block walls and all the dialog had a rather painful ringing sound.
I desired two scenes in public locations: the county land office and a library. With some trepidation, I contacted the head of the county admin offices and was happily surprised when she readily acquiesced to my request. I managed to connect with the director of the county library system and he was also fine with me filming there.
Today I met with my sound guy, John, and my DP, Nate, for some location scouting. We were able to get into the county offices (they’re normally closed on the weekend) and John was able to satisfy himself with the sound and Nate got a chance to see what he was in for lighting. Then we went to the library, which is open on Saturdays until 3, and were looking around. They have a history section, but the look I was envisioning was that of a university library, and it was just… too colorful. I was chatting with the ladies that work there, learning about the ‘card catalog’ system (a computer) while John lamented that there were no actual cards any longer. I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, a separate room that had the exact look I was going for. Even more interesting, that’s where they keep their material on the Civil War! Checking out that area was very gratifying, as it was exactly what I wanted, long rows of the same monochromatic books, exactly like I remember from my oh-so-many hours doing research back in school.
It was interesting, as we did sound tests in the library, that John kept picking up my steps on the carpet. Even when I took off my shoes. He didn’t hear his as much, nor Nate’s, so I guess I have a very heavy, scuffy walk or something.
We swung by two of the other locations, private houses, but couldn’t go in because the people that live there were out for the day. We can try and look in quickly later, when we start shooting, so John and Nate can get an idea of what they’re in for.
One wrinkle I discovered on our location scouting expedition: the Civil War era mill I was intending to film is almost completely blocked from street view by trees that have grown up around it. Clearly my memory has colored my thinking, we drive past that mill several times each weekend, yet this was the first time I noticed. Unless the managers of the mill choose to cut the trees back, I’m going to have to come up with some other solution. That solution could be cheaper, though, as the insurance for the tiny amount of driving for that scene costs me $250, over 3% of my budget. If the mill can’t be seen from the car, neither can the guys walking toward it, making filming the scene as written entirely pointless.
Things really seem like they’re coming together. My biggest worry was no one would be interested in the job. That’s behind me, my new worry is I can’t get enough of them to actually audition for the job. Which leads me to the next worry: will they actually make it through the whole period of principal photography, as there’s no practical way to change once we’ve started filming.
There are still plenty of things that have to go right for this to be a success, but a surprising number have done so far.
Please keep your fingers crossed for me!