One of my favorite processes when it comes to the creation of a film is casting. Clerestory Productions for the last few years has put on three casting calls.
Now, it should be noted that we don’t hold a casting call for every film we do. We film our casting calls and use it for future casting purposes. While we have a plethora of actresses in our database who could do the role of Catherine (women aged 25-32), honestly, we don’t have that luxury for those who fit the mold of the uncle (males aged 50-65). This is why we felt it was imperative to do a call for “Don’t Be Scared.”
Before getting into specifics of who we picked for our cast, I feel it’s important to explain what the casting process is like for Clerestory Productions. Like many casting calls, actors will come to a table, sign an information form and will be given a script as well as an acting partner. For the actors’ comfort, he/she will read over the script (usually anywhere from 2-4 pages) for a few minutes. When ready, the actors will walk into the taped audition.
As one would expect, the actors first read the script with their own interpretation. Based on the initial read through, I then will give direction to each actor in order to see how they are able to adjust.
If I like what I see and if there is not a large line waiting in the wings, what I will do is have the actors do some improv. The improv scenario I create for the actors can be various types of things. One scenario I will do is for them to simply do the scene they’ve been reading but without the script and have them put their own spin and dialogue to it. The other improv technique I will use for casting is to set up my own scenario where the actors will completely create their own characters and scene on their own until I stop them.
Back to “Don’t Be Scared.” Not surprisingly, this was our lowest turnout for a casting call. Why is this not surprising? Well, quite frankly we advertised this one very specifically to those two roles, and while we took people of all ages, we were predominantly looking for filling the shoes of Catherine and Uncle John.
For the Catherine character, writer/producer Samantha Segura and I were looking for several things:
1. As for appearance, ideally someone with dark, long hair who looked 25-32.
2. For the actual performance, we were looking for someone who was very expressive, both in facial expressions as well as the emotion exuding from dialogue.
3. For me personally, I also look for someone who is able to adjust, so we chose…
The interesting thing about Eleni is that she was the absolute final person to audition. Before her audition, I was 50/50 on who to cast. There was one actress I was thinking about for this audition and another from last year’s call. However, Eleni blew me away and put her all into the audition. While Sam and I did meet a few days after to discuss who to cast, I had it in my mind that Eleni was our Catherine.
Uncle John was a little more difficult to cast. For one, in the actual script, the uncle doesn’t speak which makes casting incredibly difficult. Because of this, I created a side script. Basically a side script is a script filled completely with dialogue that won’t be in the film whatsoever. It is the only way to see the performance of the actor opposed to just basing the decision off looks.
As for what we were looking for in terms of Uncle John:
1. In terms of appearance we were looking for someone who looked the part of a successful scientist, i.e. he had to look very intelligent and thoughtful while also having a very loving, tender look about him as well.
2. For the performance we had to find someone who had exceptional facial expressions. In line with this, this actor had to have a show of concern without overdoing it and turning it from loving to creepy.
3. For everyone who auditioned for this role, I tried to have them improv the dialogue without verbalizing anything (as is in the script), so I chose…
David has an incredible presence and looks the part of a good-natured uncle. What is interesting about David is that he has a great voice and is excellent with dialogue, despite the fact that he won’t be verbalizing any dialogue in the film. Like Eleni, I was impressed with how he upped his game through direction and improv.
Well there you have it folks, the cast of “Don’t Be Scared.” I look very forward to working with these two talented actors this weekend. Not only are they great actors but both are very communicative, which will only make my job as director easier.
– Simon Mounsey, Producer/Director for “Don’t Be Scared”