It's as though the characters are stepping out of my psyche and into the real world. I took one look at Gary Cairns' headshot and said: "there's The Trip."
Gary blew my mind in his audition. We were reading lines, and I fed him the set up, "Trip, maybe you should be on Ritalin, like, prescribed by a doctor." In character, he sat there and pondered my question. He must have counted to 30 in his head before finally replying, "Nah man, I'm cool." It was such a bold choice. The confidence to build that long before delivering his punch line. I gave him the part on the spot.
Gary then got me in touch with his friend David Wachs. Again, I took one look at David's headshots and knew, there's "Jason." David rocked his audition. We read "Jason's" big seduction scene - with me playing "Melissa" - but it didn't slow David down a bit. He dove into character with complete commitment. David is focused, intense, and yet incredibly easy going. It's such an honor to meet these fantastic actors!
We've also signed on Valerie Azlynn. Val and I bonded because she's also from Connecticut by way of New York. Like her character "Nicole," Val is Irish-Catholic, and an East Coaster. She cracked me up in our informal audition by making quirky, likable choices - letting her own personality shine through in her character.
I'm absolutely amazed at the caliber of actors we are attracting to The Last Hurrah. It also builds my confidence tremendously to find the actors so enthusiastic about the material. Lord knows they are not signing on to this project for the money! This means they are doing it for the right reasons, which is awesome. Online Reels
I've quickly found that the best thing an actor can have is an online reel. It doesn't matter if the underlying reel material is awful - good acting is good acting. You can send in a cringe-worthy student film, but if the actor has a screen presence - it will shine through.
Obviously, after one week of directing I'm no big expert, but it seems to me that acting reels are a huge courtesy to the director. I only have to bring in people I know are good - so I'm not wasting anyone's time! There is an actress named Alicia Ziegler whose acting reel is completely impressive. If we can get her, it will be terrific. We have one week to cast the entire movie!
I've found that once I see an online reel, I know if I want an actor. The face-to-face meeting is purely for personality. I am having all the actors do a one-on-one cold reading with me. This is to see how they work with me and take direction. This is going to be such a technically challenging shoot, I need to know if the actor is truly enthusiastic about the material and can take direction on the fly.
The cold read has proven to be a good strategy, as one actor has already flipped out. I asked her to cold read and she threw a full on fit. She yelled at me, called me arrogant, and walked out. Suffice it to say I was mortified.
The irony is, I never had any intention of casting this woman in the first place. Despite my packed schedule, my manager had insisted I give the woman an audition as a favor to her manager. He said it would be "good politics." Humph. Chalk it up to another valuable learning experience!