I’m almost done with auditions, and about ready to start the agonizing process of selecting who to cast. There have been a number of surprises in this process, though. I was initially contacted by 66 people for one or more roles in the movie. I asked a number of them for some clarification, feedback or something else and never got any response. That made it easy to remove them from consideration. Of the rest, I went through all their head shots, resumes and reel (only a couple lacked any reel). Because this is my first, I want to be the only ‘virgin’ on the shoot, so, reluctantly in some cases, said ‘thanks, but no thanks’ to those who were just getting started and lacked any experience. I’ve read the warning, and heard it from people in person, that stage actors can often struggle with the transition to film. This, it seems, because on the stage the actor must be able to convey their emotion all the way to the furthest seat. If they do that on film, they look like they’re grossly over acting. So I said no to those people as well.
I was still left with a very long list. I started to separate the candidates into “yes I want to audition them” and “maybe, but I can’t decide.” I wound up with, I believe, 22 in my ‘yes’ group, so sent out audition requests. About half responded, which was rather surprising to me. I said right up front that I needed a response in 48 hours, or I would assume no interest, and got one guy who responded after 4 days, with no mention of the deadline, let alone an explanation.
While scheduling all the ‘yes’ candidates and beginning the audition process, I went back over my ‘maybe/not sure’ list. I asked several more out of that group to audition.
Of the total of 31 people I asked to be in the movie (two were for non-principal roles (and one of those volunteered to be crew for free)), I had an, astounding to me, 7 not respond at all. Two more, after reading my request (I felt they should have the chance to get to know me, so probably flooded them with too much information), said ‘thanks, but no thanks.’ The one mentioned above who waited too long, then another who apparently can’t read, as he kept asking questions that I’d already answered, in some cases also in the initial ad.
Another responded, but never scheduled an audition, while another said he was not sure he wanted to invest the time in an audition, since he’d been stood up before, so wanted to do a video. I said OK, but he never sent the video. Note that I did get a video audition from someone who was on a gig, and I have scheduled him (late tonight).
That meant I had 16 actors schedule an audition (of which I’ve seen 13 already). Of those that have auditioned (I haven’t been stood up (yet?), though a few were late (and notified me)) were all professional. With two minor exceptions. Except for my first, where I was totally out of control with my babbling, I’ve asked everyone else to sing for me. There’s some a cappella singing in the script, so I wanted to be sure their voices would work. Two of the candidates, when I asked them to sing, were ‘What?’ One allowed that she could carry a tune, but wasn’t set to sing for me, while the other said, basically, “Whoops, I’m outta here.”
I only had one person schedule to audition for Harry, so asked someone who auditioned for Max, who I thought would work for the role, if he would consider Harry. He said he was fine with that. So I have to decide between two guys for Harry. For Max I’ve had/ am having 5 people (one now dual purpose), while I’ve had/am having 5 for Kayla (two of which are also being considered for Velma). Velma has got the most love, for some reason, with 7 auditions (two, as mention, also under consideration for Kayla).
No one who has shown up has felt incompatible with the role they were auditioning for. Which is not to say they all felt the same. They each had their own distinct take on the characters, some of which I felt really resonated with what was floating around in my mind. I’m glad that I’ve had so many excellent candidates who have shown up, but that means I have to say ‘no thanks’ to 12 (well, 11, since one took herself out of the running regarding the singing) perfectly good actors. When I mention this to any of them they all basically say the same thing, that they’re used to being told ‘no.’ I guess I am as well, when it comes to asking investors for money or contacting companies about one invention or another, so I suppose I shouldn’t be so shocked.
I was initially planning on doing auditions at my house in Maryland. Then I was advised by pretty much everyone that doing so was a really bad idea. I did a bunch of research on public venues for auditions and couldn’t find anything free. The cheapest, including local libraries, was $20 an hour. Since that put a lot of constraints on the times the actors would have to be available, I suggested, in my TMI request for an audition, that they could meet at my house over a much wider period of time. All but one elected to meet at the house. I met one at a local Panera Bread; she was OK with the distractions.
I’ve enjoyed meeting all these people. While I still have issues with my overflowing babble, I have managed to keep a couple close to my original goal of 15 minutes. My average was actually starting to look pretty good, until yesterday. One of the actors is studying to be a programmer (what I do for a living) and I couldn’t help myself, I offered tons of unsolicited advice on how not to be a crappy programmer. Then I met another actor and we talked for 2 hours. I hold her equally as responsible for the length, but I really enjoyed the conversation and see potential to work together even if things don’t work out for this role on this movie.
Tuesday is when I need to start making decisions. I still want to do chemistry tests with the leads, which might mean approaching someone I initially said no to, but I’m expecting these professional actors will be able to work together. I hope to do the chemistry tests very soon, ideally in the next week or so (it’s more complicated now since 5 people need to schedule to be together instead of just two), so I can lock the cast down and start planning rehearsals.
It’s still fun and I’m still enjoying myself, so I’m optimistic I’ll enjoy the actual directing part. Besides, I’ve read in so many places if I do a good job casting, most of the work is done, as the actors will take ownership of the role and that will be obvious on the screen. Then the second question left to be resolved: can I direct and edit something that people will enjoy watching enough to tell their friends and watch again. That’s still open.