Saturday, May 21, 2005

Casting Woes

I am really struggling with acting talent (or lack thereof).  We had auditions two weekends ago and, I'll be frank, I feel like we crapped out.  No talent whatsoever.  Okay, I exaggerate (slightly).  I found someone to play the female lead, I believe.  But no one to play the two main male characters.  This is VERY frustrating.  I really need character actors in the lead roles -- all the main characters are strange, slightly 'off', and are best played by character actor types. But everyone who auditioned (a) looks like a print model; and (b) can't really 'act' beyond simple articulate recitation. No one was capable of creating a character, especially someone a little strange.

I'm so frustrated that I actually auditioned for the lead myself.  At the end of a weekend of auditions, I sat down with the script, while we were waiting for the next actor, and read for the part. And, scary enough, I was the best of all the people who auditioned. And that's not me speaking -- that's the producer, casting director, and associate producer, all of whom were at the auditions.

So, I'm stuck with this dilemma -- I can keep looking and hoping I'll find someone better (and I plan to).  But the talent pool is thin -- especially for mid-30's actors who are willing to work for deferred pay.  If I don't find someone better, I have to play the role myself, but somehow change my appearance to make me look more nerdy (than I already so ;-)  Like, shaving part of my head to look really balding, and shaving my goatee and leaving just a moustache, maybe.  I'm even considering getting some high quality false teeth that will look a little less nice than my teeth. I really want to create a character here -- I've done some acting, but I need to go beyond just 'acting' and really inhabit this weird main character. If I do it.

Of course, directing myself AND other actors AND paying attention to the shots... I'm not sure I can do this.  But if it's between that and casting an actor who's no good in such a critical role... well, I'm not sure I'll have a choice.

Sigh... how does Woody Allen do it?  :-)


At 5:16 PM, Blogger AAP said...

Maybe you should spend next week and next weekend scouring the theater scene in your town?

See a bunch of plays and see if there is any talent available?

At 6:22 PM, Blogger TerminalMFA said...

Definitely a good thought, but there is no theater scene here. We are in the boonies. The civic theater here is... well, we advertised with them, so we have seen everyone in the local theater scene who was interested (all 5 of them).

At 8:07 AM, Blogger AiE said...

Well, you don't have any stepkids, so I think that is going to make it difficult for you to truly emulate Woody Allen.

Plus, I think Allen's recent films have been terrible, though I love Zelig.

Filmmaker and his film-school friends constantly struggle with lack of good talent. It's difficult to overcome, even with great script and cinematography.

Personally, I think it's generally not a great idea to act in one's own films, unless one is an accomplished actor and director, but it sounds like this is a situation where it might be necessary, given the dearth of talent.

Folks working for deferred pay may shy away from quirky, character-actor roles, which they may wrongly view as limiting or simply uncool.

Have you directed quite a bit before?

At 12:19 PM, Blogger TerminalMFA said...

Yeah, I guess I could've thought of a lot of people other than Woody to emulate. Eastwood was an actor first, so I didn't want to mention him. Someone like Edward Burns is probably closer, given that he starred in his own low/no budget independent.

I felt like, given this was a feature, we'd attract some talent. It's not like we're in NY or LA, where everyone is a would-be Edward Burns, shooting their own features. There aren't many features done in this neck of the woods, so I thought we might get a lot of people who just haven't had the opportunities.

I have directed two other films, this will be my first feature. And I've also done a lot of other kinds of directing -- much of it for educational purposes, but done in dramatic scene style. So I know my way around the backside of the camera. But as an actor, I am inexperienced. I started out acting long ago (back in high school days), but shifted to directing theater and then film when I found that I enjoyed that part of the process more (my control-freak nature exerting itself).

At 1:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You may be expecting too much of your (inexperienced) actors. Like they work on their own to "create a character" and demonstrate their take in the audition - so you have something to react to. You're asking them to make the first move when you, the director, should be making the first move.


At 5:14 PM, Blogger TerminalMFA said...

don't get me wrong. it's not like i'm not trying to direct them to that point. i do think they should put some thought into how they will interpret a character for an audition. and after that, i need to direct them and see if they can adjust and take direction.

the actors i was seeing really did nothing but read the lines. i'm sorry, but i've auditioned people before. you have todo something to show you've thought about it. if you don't, it's irresponsible. and then, after the director gives you some direction, you have to do something different than what you did the first time.

the actors i saw, for the most part, didn't know how to act beyond simple line reading. believe me, i wasn't expecting a whole lot -- just an attempt to give me any sense of character, even a wrong sense. i can direct someone to my interpretation if he or she can act.

At 2:22 PM, Blogger AAP said...

Have you thought about trying to hold auditions in NY or LA, maybe find a couple of great actors who would be willing to crash on a couch for a 2 week shooting schedule?


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