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Casting Day 1: Who are you?

March 20, 2007

So for my Internet series, we casted from 12-6PM on Sunday. What an exhausting day! During this time, we saw 24 actors and actresses. It would have been more had it not been the day after St. Patty’s day. The no-shows were actually a blessing in disguise because we fell behind a few times and needed a buffer to catch up.

Each actor had 10 minutes. My creative partner has a different approach to casting than I do, so I let him take the lead. Rather than dive into the audition, he likes to spend a few minutes just talking with actors, getting to know them and hearing about what kind of training they’ve had (Is there any actor who hasn’t learned the Meisner technique?). And of course, it puts the actor at ease so he can deliver his best performance. The drawback to this approach is we only had 10 minutes to see the actor and in my opinion, it’s more important to focus on the actual audition, especially this early in the process. Let’s face it. An actor with good training and resume can still be a bad actor. At times, I felt a little impatient and I was a little stressed about falling behind schedule.

The other interesting approach is that we didn’t provide actors sides or monologues beforehand. Instead, we gave them a monologue during their 10 minutes. So they only really have a moment to absorb the information and deliver. After their first take, they are given directions and we look to see if they can make the adjustments the second time around. At first, I was a little skeptical about this approach. In most situations, an actor is going to have his/her lines memorized before shooting, so I wondered if this would hurt good actors who just weren’t as good at improvising or needed time to prepare. But by the end, I was sold on this approach. As my partner put it, a good actor should be able to deliver at a moment’s notice and I agree. Also, better actors can take direction and adjust quicker than mediocre actors. If you’re an expert in something, you should be able to do it better than someone else regardless of how much time you have to prepare. Many of the bad/inexperienced actors were weeded out immediately.

In case you’re interested, the monologues we gave came from the following movies:

  • Saving Private Ryan
  • Garden State
  • Final Destination
  • LA Confidential
  • Venus Beauty Institute

The most amazing thing about this casting process is that headshots never look like the person you’re auditioning. And 95% of the time, the person doesn’t live up to the picture. On top of that, when you review an actor on video, they look different from what they looked like in person. Such a strange reality. Anyway, more casting tomorrow….

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