Sunday, September 09, 2007

Emily's casting saga continues

To facilitate the casting process I signed up for Breakdown Express, one of the major online casting sites which many of you probably already know about.

I studied some other breakdowns then wrote my own for one of the characters I still need to cast.

Valerie, female, 21, any ethnicity. Valerie is petite and drop-dead gorgeous but has deep insecurities. She identified herself as a sex object and only feels like she has value because her boyfriend wants her. She is easily bored and very subtle in her behavior.

If you've never used this site, here's how it works. You post your breakdown then agents and actors submit headshots and resumes and you filter through them, selecting the ones you like and dropping the rest into a separate category. You can email the list and print it and you can schedule the auditions right there without actually having to talk to anybody. I have an irrational fear of calling strangers so this is a big plus for me.

So I posted by breakdown and then drove north for two days where I shut off my phone and didn't even look at a computer. Hell, Los Angeles could have been wiped out by a giant robot attack for all I knew.

But LA was still here, albeit not quite as blazing hot as when we left.

When I returned last night I hopped on the computer and checked my results. 226 submissions. 226 girls, some union, some pretty experienced, some brand new, all ethnic groups (only 4 of the girls are 100% white), all interested in auditioning for my tiny little unpaid short film.

I had to filter it down to 14.

Some were easy. Valerie is supposed to be petite but I had girls on that list that were 5'9" or so, so they were out. Valerie is supposed to be 21 but I had girls on that list who looked more like Valerie's mom. And I cut all but one of the SAG members because even though I am signing the no budget agreement and Lead Actor is SAG, I'd rather not have to deal with union issues.

It turned out to be more fun than I anticipated. Looking at these pictures and imagining these girls being both sexual and innocent while they read my lines was an exhilarating experience. It also highlighted just how important that headshot is because a lot of these girls had the same basic level of experience and skills on their resumes, so I had to separate them based solely on facial expressions.

A couple of the girls wrote personal notes to me about the short, which instantly placed them in the audition category because anyone who takes the time to write personally about why they're interested is the kind of person who will show up on time and know her lines and not bitch about being paid in food. One of the girls who wrote to me is a Yale graduate with a double major in economics and political science. Another girl who wrote to me completely avoided all punctuation and capital letters. It's a diverse group and I hope to have fun sifting through them.

I still need to cast my other girl, Sheila, but I want to cast Valerie first because she's much harder to play. I'm hoping I'll see Sheila in one of these girls so I can cast straight from this pool. And who knows, maybe I'll see a girl and remember her for a future project. I do have five other shorts in this series.

I'm running all my auditions on Tuesday from 2 to 7, so now I have a new problem. Where. I have nowhere to hold the auditions. Anybody got any ideas? I'm a bit in crisis because the only places I can think of are bedrooms and that's just unprofessional. Help.

Edited to add: I forgot what I do for a living. I called two friends of mine who have adjoining classrooms at the school and asked if I could use them Tuesday. Crisis averted.

At any rate, casting's not so bad after all. I'm actually kind of having fun. We'll just see what happens when it's time to narrow my 14 to one.


  1. How about doing auditions in a park?

    Pick a small park on the westside, someplace where you can claim a picnic table in a shady spot.

    Everyone loves a park. And the weather's supposed to be sunny, clear, and 85.

  2. Know what I just remembered? I'm a school teacher. I have classrooms.

  3. One thing I can promise you: you will come away from this experience with great stories.

    Thanks for looking into Rasa 9 for me -- I'll get in touch with him soon...

  4. Auditioning is a great way to see whether your writing is working or not, too. All those various people delivering your lines of dialogue - some sound horrible, some great.

    And the epiphany you may have is that the good stuff is actually coming from the actor, not your material, and that you may need to go back and rewrite some of your original dialogue...

    It's been known to happen...


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