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September 19, 2008

Casting in 2008

So last week I was asked to cast a spec ad for the Obama campaign. Very exciting. The producer is one I've been working with for a few years on one of my top two favorite screenplays ever (will be casting soon, I promise) and the writer/director writes things like Bourne movies and the DP shoots Soderbergh's stuff, yada yada yada. Yes. This was a big YES project for me.

Yesterday was the first day of shooting and Keith was on set both as a casting liaison and an actor (they wrote in a role for him after meeting him at auditions last week). I was home working on scene assignments for the November showcase. Started the day with 57 top scenes to choose from and ended up having (loosely) cast everything by midday, then charged in to do formatting and punch-up with my producing partner. (Yes, even the most brilliant scenes need work, as they're rarely "balanced" for two characters equally, and once we know who's playing what role, we can work in things that really showcase the actors' strengths.)

I got a call from Keith mid-morning telling me that the guys had written in another scene to shoot today. They needed a _____ (insert type, age, gender of the actor, here) and wanted to know if I could find someone right then. Keith and I brainstormed for about 90 seconds on the phone and came up with a couple of ideas, but realized they were all just "off" in some way (not the right age, too white-collar-looking, not Midwest-looking enough, etc.), so I suggested that Keith use his iPhone to show the guys some showcasers we had cast in the past two years. Let them shop for what they want at our gallery!

So, Keith hung up and showed the guys various actors from the HISTORY links at the showcase website (their headshots are all there, even after the showcase term is over). He then called me with a short list and we discussed whether it was worth even reaching out to one of the actors because he was a huge pain in the ass to work with and did we want to subject these most awesome spec ad people we adore to someone who WE wouldn't want to work with again, etc., and the decision was made to go after this one guy and then this other guy if the first guy couldn't do it. That would be our list.

Instead of having me call and try and book the guy, I had Keith call him from the set, since he'd have much more detailed information about this new scene than I would, seeing as it materialized right there on the set during the shoot (God, I love creative people!) and I'd just have to relay and say, "I don't know. I can find out," a lot. So, I sent Keith the guys' numbers and he called me back a few moments later to let me know that this guy accepted and would be emailing me at an address Keith gave to him (an address you don't have for me unless I've cast you in something), so I could send him the contract, call sheet (pre-his-character version, of course), and get his info over to wardrobe so the process could flow through quickly.


In under an hour, we went from this scene not even existing to this guy cast and on the phone with wardrobe--contract and call sheet in hand--and it's all because of the iPhone and teamwork and creativity.

I love it!

Now, I don't cast commercials. (I cast a series of print ads for SAG Indie's 10th Anniversary campaign a couple of years ago and one promo for On Air with Ryan Seacrest about five years ago, but that's it!) So, maybe this sort of thing happens all the time with creative people making up new stuff on the set and having casting get actors locked in FAST. So maybe this isn't all that impressive. But I work on indie films, pilots, and the occasional 99-seat play (sometimes for MONTHS and MONTHS), so this all moved very fast for me and felt pretty dang bad-ass, when it was all said and done.

So, there's some casting in 2008 for ya.

In other news, none of my clothes fit anymore (Yippee!); we have our biggest showcase cast ever (Yippee!); we had the Self-Management for Actors 3rd edition bluelines proofer party this week and found only two changes to make before greenlighting the print-run, which began yesterday and soon thousands of copies of this most awesome book will be hurtling toward Los Angeles and our international distributor's warehouse (Yippee!); and I will probably be joining the Facebook this weekend (NO YIPPEE. I've caved in to peer pressure. NO YIPPEE. I am WEAK! So there. NYAH).

Posted by bonnie at September 19, 2008 12:43 PM


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