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My production is a week away but auditions...whew


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#1 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 02:19 AM

My short film is going to be shot next Saturday. However, tonight was the auditions. I must say that this was a combination of highs and lows. I had 2 of the main characters already cast from a previous casting call last year. I just needed one more of the main characters and I had 15 candidates scheduled to showcase their skills so I was sure I'd find a good pick.

As it turned out, all of my existing cast and crew turned out to help me judge but those "15" candidates turned out to be 4, as I had 11 flakes. That was a total downer. I had some seriously awkward silence as i delayed starting the auditions in hopes of more showing up. Unfortunately, none did so i had to start. I was really starting to question whether I would get a good pick from only 4 choices. This was a total down moment.

To my surprise, one of the auditioner's had the perfect look I was hoping for. I figured it would be too good to be true to expect him to act well with the scene also. Fortunately, I was wrong. He delievered the lines crisp, by memory after only a short time of review, and even used certain non-verbal cues that I had envisioned in my mind but failed to put in the audition sequence. After the 4 had went, we asked them to step out side. I talked with my cast and crew and got each persons opinion. As it turned out, everyone unanimously agreed that this fellow was right for the role. I had to call them in and break the news. Fortunately, everyone was cool about it. I thanked everyone and the others left. I still had over an hour left from the time frame I said the audition would be so we had some good time to do a pre-production rehearsal. It was fantastic. Everyone was flowing and feeding off of each other. It was only 90 minutes, but it was 90 intense minutes that give me hope for the upcoming shoot. I only hope that the shoot will be as smooth sailing as the rehearsal was. I realize, however, that this is unlikely.

The one down side of the night was that I realized that my AD did not share my vision so I let her go. She went from offering helpful suggestions to getting extremely nitpicky and undermining when it came to my vision and script. I hired her to help me carry out my vision for the script. I felt like she was trying to incorporate her vision instead. Because I'm short of a DP and had to take that hat, I need an AD I can trust to handle the interior rehearsals while I shoot the exteriors. I didn't feel I could rely on her in that situation to carry out my vision while I'm not present.

I did find out that another crew member turned out to be very protective of my vision during the open forum and she ended up getting promoted to AD and I recruited another outside person to take her old position. I feel much better about the upcoming shoot, although I hope the lack of this lady on set doesn't lower the cast/crew morale.

All in all, I'm extremely juiced and ready to shoot. This will probably feel like one of the longest weeks in my life. I'm ready...

Any opinions on if firing a crew member for differences lowers cast/crew morale? Would love to hear feedback.
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#2 Glen Alexander

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 08:03 AM

with AD, i wouldn't let someone go for a different vision, i look at people i work with as collaborators where i have the final say. i have a very strong vision of what my film will look like and know how to express with peinture, croquis, and dessin, as well as with words and music what is required, this actually gives people a guide instead of going off into the 'wilderness' or loose cannon.

i wouldn't hire someone to be a 'yes' person, i want them to have a strong enough personality and artistic sense to stand up for what they believe, but in the end they need to accept my decision.

if people are professional, they know everyone doesn't work out on a film. disagreements happen, when it's their money and time on the line, they'll understand. if someone has an attitude with people not working out, i'd let them go as well.

Edited by Glen Alexander, 20 July 2008 - 08:06 AM.

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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 08:20 AM

Sorry to hear about the AD and the flakes. But hey, Seems like all in all it was a positive time. Best of luck!
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#4 Christopher Santucci

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 09:42 AM

... all of my existing cast and crew turned out to help me judge but those "15" candidates turned out to be 4, as I had 11 flakes. That was a total downer.


I've never heard of this - the cast and crew helping choose actors.

It's common on a non-paying or very low budget project to have potential cast flake out. On the last feature I shot, of the 20 something people who were invited to the initial casting call, maybe half showed up. One thing I have noticed over the years is that when you try to pull non-actors (models, lay people, etc) into the casting mix, they tend to flake out far more than aspiring actors, which does make sense since they may be apprehensive about their skills and of course if acting is not at the fore of their endeavors, they make decide to skip the audition.

As it turned out, everyone unanimously agreed that this fellow was right for the role. I had to call them in and break the news. Fortunately, everyone was cool about it. I thanked everyone and the others left.


I generally notify only those selected for roles after the auditions process is over, like a day or so later (depending on numbers of choices). Actors are used to going to auditions and not getting roles and as far as I know, those NOT cast generally do not get notified. That's cool of you to let 'em know though.


I did find out that another crew member turned out to be very protective of my vision during the open forum and she ended up getting promoted to AD and I recruited another outside person to take her old position. I feel much better about the upcoming shoot, although I hope the lack of this lady on set doesn't lower the cast/crew morale.

In general, I'd think that changing up the crew configuration before you shoot should have little effect on morale as opposed to after you're into production and the crew gets used to each other. I mulled over making a crew member change when already 2 weeks into a 3 week long feature length film production but decided not to since I felt it would have an effect on morale.

The bottom line is, you have to do what's right for the film and anyone involved should understand and accept that.

.
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#5 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 12:51 PM

with AD, i wouldn't let someone go for a different vision, i look at people i work with as collaborators where i have the final say. i have a very strong vision of what my film will look like and know how to express with peinture, croquis, and dessin, as well as with words and music what is required, this actually gives people a guide instead of going off into the 'wilderness' or loose cannon.

i wouldn't hire someone to be a 'yes' person, i want them to have a strong enough personality and artistic sense to stand up for what they believe, but in the end they need to accept my decision.


I think the issue is, what is the purpose of having an AD? In my case, it is because I need to be at two places at once and the AD is the extension of me. That cannot happen if we don't share a vision. I don't want a "yes" man, I want a "okay, this is not your vision, it's OUR vision." I think having an AD with constant dissention would be setting myself up for a very long day this coming Saturday. Everyone has a right to their opinion, but I really felt inside that cutting her was the right thing to do.
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#6 Glen Alexander

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 01:19 PM

I've never heard of this - the cast and crew helping choose actors.


you're kidding?

i do this currently, everyone gets to have their input, the final decision is mine but i look at the social interactions as well as technical skills, but i'm going to shoot in the desert, no time for wingers or egos.

It's common on a non-paying or very low budget project to have potential cast flake out.


yes, always pay people something, their time is valuable.

On the last feature I shot, of the 20 something people who were invited to the initial casting call, maybe half showed up.


wow that's pretty bad. was this a Roger Corman production?

One thing I have noticed over the years is that when you try to pull non-actors (models, lay people, etc) into the casting mix, they tend to flake out far more than aspiring actors, which does make sense since they may be apprehensive about their skills and of course if acting is not at the fore of their endeavors, they make decide to skip the audition.


yes, why i hand pick everyone.

I generally notify only those selected for roles after the auditions process is over, like a day or so later (depending on numbers of choices). Actors are used to going to auditions and not getting roles and as far as I know, those NOT cast generally do not get notified. That's cool of you to let 'em know though.


i usually tell everyone, even if it is slightly modified form letter. they actually appreciate it when you tell them and short explanation why. i treat them like i want to be treated with respect, works wonders.
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