The Living, Breathing Story Pieces.

Ask any director, and I’m sure one of the most important, and difficult aspects of filmmaking, is finding the right actors to bring the characters of any given story to life. To find the ones who will breathe life to the protagonists, antagonists, and everyone else in between. Some people gather up their friends to get their film going. Others hold auditions for their projects. While others manage to put together enough of a budget that they can hire casting agents to put together a rock solid cast.

We tried to play all three sides at once.

I’ll save the reasons for why we ended up getting delayed, and why we found ourselves at the mercy of SAG, for the next post. For now I’ll focus on the living, breathing story pieces, and how we put together our cast for Assassins.

Before Ann and I started putting the pieces together for our cast, we attempted to work with a few casting directors/managers. One of the things that many low budget filmmakers will run in to is a very harsh lack of funds. We were no different. The people we met were very interested in helping us, and constantly stated how interested they were in the project after reading the script (although I’ve heard the same from just about every person involved in filming so I’m starting to think it’s all a load of BS – but, more on that in another post). Everything was peachy until the issue of money came up. As soon as it became apparent that we didn’t have deep pockets, they’d either raise their price to effectively price themselves out of our project, or say that they’d help at a discounted rate, which was still ridiculously high.

The major thing I learned at this point of the filmmaking process was to always talk money up front. It will save you a ton of heartache later.

So, we decided to cast our film ourselves, as I’d done for all of the previous short films and music videos. The first cast, was Bill Oberst Jr. That was the easiest. The role had already been written for him, and he was reprising the role from our short film. No big headaches there. Then it was off to the races.

Finding our lead character of Chris Collins took very little time at all. We discovered David Pesta quickly, and we didn’t need to look over most of the other choices. Between myself, Ann and Dave Grant we knew that David was perfect for the role. To continue forward with this stroke of luck we had David accompany myself and Ann to all future casting sessions. This also proved to be the right thing to do.

The next session was our hunt for both Bill’s foil, Simon Orano, and Chris’ brother. As the day wore on, it looked like we were going to go home empty. That was until Andre Tenerelli came in to read for the part of Tommy Collins. He read for the brother, and did a pretty bang up job. He was instantly my favorite choice for that part, but David turned to the two of us and asked if we could get Andre to read for the part of Simon Orano. I chased Andre into the parking lot, probably looking like a complete psycho as I raced out of the audition room, and caught up to him. I asked if he would read for the other part, and we gave him some time as we auditioned a few other people in the mean time. When he came in to read for the other lead, we knew we’d found our Simon. It was too perfect, and I owe it all to David for making that happen.

The very last audition we had turned out to be the right one, and that’s where we brought in Dove Meir. He’d offered his services for a music video we’d shot the summer before, and we thought he just might be right for the part. We were right.

The rest of the pieces fell into place from there, but we were really happy to have the backbone of our film locked into place very early in the process. It made the rest much easier to focus on without having to worry about the talent on screen.

Of course, this lead to our next post: Hurdles of Creativity (or, How our Excitement was almost crushed by the money people).

Filmmakers. What has your experience been in casting your film? What worked, or didn’t work, for you? Is there any advice you’d offer to anyone looking to find the right people for their project?

No comments

Post a Reply

© 2012 Michael Bonomo. All rights reserved.