Movie Magic: Casting

By brtsergio, Flickr Creative Commons

Connecticut filmmaker Danny LeGare is embarking on an ambitious film project right in our own backyard. The accomplished LeGare is planning to film a feature length movie, titled Love and War, from November 15-23, over eight grueling days of non-stop shooting. (Generally feature length movies take at least a few months to complete.) What makes this project even more unique is that while the story line has a set arc, there’s no actual script and lines will be totally improvised, from start to finish. It’s a pretty bold move.

While a few of the roles for this movie have been cast (LeGare will be playing the lead role) there were other key parts that had not yet been cast as of last week, such as the leading lady and various supporting male roles. So what’s a filmmaker to do when looking for a leading lady and a few supporting male cast members? Open casting call!

Last Tuesday, LeGare, along with a few of his ball-busting cast and crew, held an open casting call in Vernon to scout potential talent for this upcoming movie. The CuT was able to sit in on the auditions to get a sense of how these worked. No, there were no “casting couch” situations (at least that we saw) so get your minds out of the gutter.

The first person we saw audition was a young woman (didn’t catch her name) who had never acted before but was looking to get some experience. She arrived with her professional headshot but no resume. To the crew holding the auditions, she seemed very nervous, which is understandable given her novice status.

Another young woman, Catherine, who looked to be 23 years old, then came in for an audition. She had quite an extensive background mostly in theater. It’s pretty easy to tell when a person has been in theater; they annunciate…everything. That’s not a bad thing but as LeGare pointed out, it doesn’t always translate properly over to film.

Her resume included different accent training, various animal movement training classes (she acted like a wolf for the crew which was unusual to say the least) and sprinting. Once the official audition process got underway the questions ranged from “what would you like to do with your career” to “tell me about your childhood.”

While the answers she gave were generally good, LeGare quickly decided that she was not a “leading lady.” Although she didn’t say anything, it obviously didn’t go over well. She responded politely: “Well, there are all types of roles so that’s ok.” But she was certainly stunned by LeGare’s bluntness. Even though she did not have the qualities he was looking for in a leading lady, LeGare informed her that he can definitely find a place for someone as talented as her in the movie.

The next person to audition, after a lull, was a guy named Jason, who was auditioning for one of the douche bag/thug type guys. Jason was a tall, relatively unassuming guy who you wouldn’t normally think could play a tough guy. His resume was loaded with short films that have been shot in the New England area and he had experience fighting on camera (even as a ninja). While Jason was ok with doing fighting scenes for Love and War, he requested that the action be somewhat choreographed. Apparently a fight-scene gone wrong on another movie had ended with a knee-injury in a previous movie.

For his audition, Jason was asked to pick a verbal fight with one of the cast members in the room, without making physical contact with him. Cue the derogatory comments! It’s never comfortable to see people talking crap to each other even when they’re faking it.

Even though it seemed like Jason did a decent job of talking smack, almost as soon as he exited the room LeGare told one of his crew to pitch his head shot. The fighting had to seem as real as possible (without actual ass kicking) and he didn’t want to choreograph it at all. So there goes that.

Unfortunately, it was slim pickings after Jason’s audition, much to the disappointment of the crew. While conventional thinking might say “that’s because there isn’t much of a demand in Connecticut,” LeGare was quick to point out that “if this had been in LA or New York, it wouldn’t have been that much different.” Apparently non-union acting gigs don’t draw well no matter what city (or suburb) you’re in.

Regardless of the lack luster turn out, the always confident LeGare strongly believes that this movie will reach a viewing audience via box office. Hopefully for the sake of Connecticut film, he’s correct. If you’re in the Stafford Springs area, be on the look out for a film shooting there in the next few weeks.