Improvisationising.

Being a writer or filmmaker means that you can do this really awesome thing. I don’t mean making a profound movie that touches people’s hearts – although that is really ace. I don’t mean getting to work with amazing cast and crew and all working together to make something beautiful – although that rocks.

I mean being able to sit around and watch loads of movies and call it research.

It is seriously one of the best things ever. What’s even better, for me, is that a few projects that I’m working on at the moment are romantic comedies. So I get to watch a lot of good ones that I can learn what to do right and a lot of terrible ones which are almost better to watch because it’s easier to figure out what they’ve done that you’d do much much differently.

I’m working on a feature film concept at the moment with the effervescent Anton and we meandered out to the cinema last week to see ‘Like Crazy‘ as research for the film. This actually was a film for research, as we’d heard that the ‘falling in love’ section worked really really well. If we’d been going to see something like ‘The Artist‘, it might’ve been less research and more ‘research’ – although, a silent rom-com, anyone?

The cinema was completely empty which was great for us as it meant that we could easily talk through the film and pull it apart and figure out as we went what we liked and what we didn’t. But about ten seconds in to the first scene where the leads have any proper screen time together, I tilted my head to one side, paused thoughtfully for a second and said ‘This is improvised.’

And it was. As was most of the film.

I don’t know if it did it any favours. There were definitely three massive story beats missing so it seemed to skip over huge spaces of time in the story. It also meant that some scenes felt like they were over really quickly or too long or hitting the same beat again and again. There’s a scene where they’re arguing and Anna keeps repeating the same line of dialogue over and over again in different ways. The scene stalled and it didn’t really make sense in the context of the story, either.

This scene really sticks in my mind because it doesn’t work. There was no build up to the height of the argument, the pair of them just kind of jump to the main point of the scene – where she accuses him of having feelings for someone else.

I think that this can often happen when all the actors improvising are thinking about is the core plot point of the scene and not the build up. Arguments can often be fantastic scenes to write, to act and to film when they are done dynamically. One way that I like to do this is before the argument explodes, one of the characters is trying NOT to get into the argument, even though it’s brimming under the surface. They contain themselves for as long as they possibly can and the other character is completely unaware, until the argument bursts into being at the smallest thing.

This is a really great way to tackle improvising arguments with actors and you can get some wonderful character moments in them. If you tell both actors what the core plot point of the scene is – she accuses him about having feelings for someone else – then take each actor aside privately and give them direction that the other doesn’t know about. For example, tell her that she wants to confront him about it but doesn’t want to make a scene. Tell him that he wants to go out for pizza because he’s organised a surprise dinner for their anniversary. Then you create a moment that is driven by the actors surprising each other – she surprises him with the argument and he surprises her by insisting that they should go out and get pizza. The more he blocks the argument with dinner, the more she’ll attack him and the more she’ll attack him, the more he’ll block until eventually, one of them will break and you’ll hit the high point of the scene – even if you don’t know what that high point will reveal.

You don’t need actors to do this. You can do this as a writing exercise too. Place restrictions on your characters a scene to see how they react under pressure. It doesn’t even need to be an argument, although it is often a surprising and fast way to get character and exposition across. Try writing a scene like the one above with your two main characters and see what you get out of it.

I think the key with improvising is that it should be done in the rehearsal/development stages. We played with improvisation during the rehearsals of ‘With A Little Help From Our Friends’ and the film is definitely the better for it – some moments became even bigger and more hilarious and the improvised moments became a part of the film, a part I wrote into the script which we shot on the day. I had to tweak it a little to make it work, but adding those improvised moments to the structure of the main film definitely gave it a little more sparkle.

It’s very gutsy to improvise a whole film, mostly just because that actors are often not writers. They can craft amazing characters and create wonderful moments, but the doesn’t make a story. However, if they’ve got the skeleton of a fantastic script underneath them, the improvised pieces become beautiful flourishes on a fantastic film and not a film that had so much potential but didn’t quite get there.

Production: Day Two, Part One.

For Day One, Part One, click here!
For Day One, Part Two, click here!

Day Two dawned chilly. I woke up early as I wanted to hit up our location at about 8.30am to start dressing the set – it was the one day that we had proper set dressing. I’d mocked up a bunch of posters for a noticeboard with varying design degrees to properly make it feel as though the set was a theatre academy. Trivia note: all the names barring four are names of backers of the film. So if you chipped in before the shoot, your name may well be in the film!

Abby (Victoria Smith) and my rad production design.

Knowing that we would have to motor fairly quickly through the day, I was keen to get there before the call time to start prepping things. The location contact said before he left that he’d be there from 7am and I knew that some people would show up a little earlier than the 9am call time, so I thought if I got in there early and started up, we’d manage to get the day off to a good start.

That kind of thinking is all well and good in theory, but when I showed up to the location around 8.30am and it was very much locked and empty and Jack (who had been dealing with the location) was twenty minutes away, I’d definitely say that I was a little concerned about starting on time. It was just after 9am that the location contact showed up and Jamie and Jim (DOP and camera assistant) were both early, so we very quickly chose a corner of the room that took our fancy and began to light it and dress it.

Victoria and I had decided the day before that she would plait a scarf into her hair (see above), which proved to be reasonably tricky to do. She tackled that whilst we prepped the set and tried to decide whether a jaunty angle for notices actually worked or not. I decided that they didn’t.

The morning started to run away from us a little and we were suddenly running around forty minutes behind schedule. This scene was a little finnicky to shoot – there were particular moments that were important to get within their own shot and not in a wide or a mid shot. And, regardless of the promise that we were to have the place to ourselves for the Sunday, we managed to have about three people open the creaky door in the middle of a take. It’s Murphy’s Law that they never managed to walk in when we weren’t rolling, always when we were.

But, regardless of that, we were suddenly moving along quickly. Markus and Victoria were getting through each shot in one or two takes (with rare exceptions for interruptions leading to a third take), we were catching up to where we were supposed to be and Danny and Carolina had appeared ready for their afternoon of shooting. After Markus and Victoria had finished falling in love, we called in Danny and Carolina to film one shot before we broke for lunch.

Running an hour later isn’t catastrophically bad. But when I went outside to have a look at our next location and could hear a thumping of a choir practising Christmas carols in the studio out the back of the theatre, I couldn’t help but laugh, albiet slightly hysterically. Sound issues plague every shoot, but this one seemed to be injecting absolutely everything into our Sunday to see what we could take.

But for now, it was lunch, so I was off to munch on some M&Ms and go over what else we had to shoot for the day.

Oh, and be teased for being Australian. You get used to it after awhile.

Production: Day One; Part One

Day one of With A Little Help From Our Friends was a late start.

Because the location we’d managed to get was a theatre school, they had students in there until 1pm. So we scheduled the call time to be at 1pm on Saturday and we planned to wrap at 5pm and shoot two (and a bit) scenes.

However, Jack had been told on Friday afternoon that they’d hired out the theatre to a (wait for it) r’n’b hip hop band from 1pm -6pm who needed to rehearse, after assuring us that we’d have the place to ourselves for the weekend. They figured because we weren’t actually shooting in the theatre that day, that it would be fine.

The issue here, of course, was that we weren’t shooting a silent movie. As the location was on a main road, traffic noise was bad enough as it was, so the added DOOF DOOF DOOF of bass and drums wasn’t exactly a welcome addition to the soundscape.

There wasn’t much that we could do. We decided that we’d shoot as much as we could and if we had to, shuffle Sunday’s schedule around slightly to shoot a little bit more if we had to.

I headed up to High Barnet at about 11am. I wanted to be there early just in case things went entirely pear shaped and as it got closer to the call time, the more I just wanted to be on set. On the tube ride up, I went over shot lists and schedules and wished that I had reception on the Tube in case anything went horribly wrong. Nothing did. I caught up with Jack and we went and got some lunch (I had an idea for another short in the meantime) and by the time we got back to the location, we could go in.

But we couldn’t start doing anything until the kids were out. And the kids weren’t out until around 1.30pm-ish.

Everyone else was on time though, so we set the actors up in a room with the unit and drinks and I took Jim and Jamie around to show them where we were going to be shooting. After being unable to find a lightswitch for the room (hey, it was behind the desk at reception and nowhere near the room, okay?!), we decided the room was too echo-y for sound, so we changed our minds and chose the room we’d set the actors up in (the ‘green room’, if you will).

After dressing the set, I left Jamie and Jim to light the space and I took Danny and Markus (Des and Max) into the theatre to refresh the scene in their heads. We were going to shoot the entire scene in one go in a wideshot/two shot first, then punch in for close ups and then pick up any other sections that needed a little more coverage.

The boys ran the scene on the stage (which I told them was the girls’ set for the next day. Cue violent jealousy). Because we’d had the opportunity to rehearse, it was a matter of running the scene and only slightly tweaking their performances, as well as taking the chance to discuss alternate options in the week since the final rehearsal. Both Markus and Danny are fantastic actors (I always have to bury my face in my script when they run it to keep from laughing aloud) so it was a matter of them finding the rhythm and beats again. I didn’t want to run it too many times without the camera rolling as the scene can become too rehearsed and stiff, so we headed back onto set.

It was already 2pm by now, we’re already running an hour late. There was the added pressure of the fact that the r’n’b band who were going to ruin our sound hadn’t turned up yet so it became a little bit of a race to see how much we could get shot before they showed up.

But we were ready to go, so we started rolling.

The trouble with shooting a comedy is that the script is funny.

Luckily, I had crew who were focused enough on their individual roles that no-one burst out laughing on set.

However, that didn’t stop Markus from getting the giggles.

We’d done about three takes of the first shot when halfway through, Danny stopped, confused as Markus completely lost it laughing.

We’re running an hour and a half late, my lead can’t stop laughing at my script and the band have finally showed up.

And we’re only two hours in!

The Countdown: Five Days Until We Shoot

It’s Monday already? Gosh, where did last week go? We’ve been busy in the ‘With A Little Help From Our Friends’ production office (and by that, I mean we’re all working out of our respective bedrooms) and suddenly we’re five days out from shooting.

This week is out last chance to get everything in place before Saturday morning. The list isn’t too formidable, but that’s ignoring anything that will go horribly wrong in the next few days. We’ve had a few hiccups but nothing disastrous as yet (touch wood) and we’ve managed to bounce back from that and keep the train moving.

So, where are we at?

We’ve currently raised $1771 toward our budget which is completely amazing considering we thought we’d struggle to hit $1000. Our budget is $2000, so if you’re still interested in helping us out, go and check out the campaign (it’s running for another two and a half weeks). We’re so stunned by the support so thank you so much to everyone who has helped out so far!

We had our second and final rehearsal yesterday which was pretty exciting. It was great to see how much the story and characters have developed since the first rehearsal a few weeks ago and the script is really starting to come into its own. The cast seemed to be having great fun, judging by the explosions of laughter that erupted after the end of each run through and I must admit that I lost it a few times during a scene and had to compose myself so that I could actually focus on the performances (see below for some ace photos!).

Now we’re all about the shoot. Craig is in charge of call sheets and schedules, Jack’s liasing with the locations and I’ve got to finalise shot lists as well as make sure we’ve got all the props and costume we need. This is the week to be organised, definitely, as this is the time when things’ll start to go wrong. But as I told Craig when he called me to tell me that the harddrives we were going to buy for the shoot had leapt up £200 in price because of the floods in Thailand – if nothing goes wrong, then you’ve forgotten something.

Bring on the shoot!

Lucy (Carolina Main) tells Abby (Victoria Smith) why dating Max is a bad idea.

Max (Markus Copeland) tells Des about how he met Abby.

Des (Danny Mahoney) tries to convince Max (Markus Copeland) he’s wrong.

Alli Parker (director) chats to Markus and Danny.

Abby (Victoria Smith), Lucy (Carolina Main), Max (Markus Copeland) and Des (Danny Mahoney).

Of Learning Lines and an Abundance of Laughter: First Rehearsal

Sunday morning dawned chilly and frosty but it didn’t deter me – it was our first rehearsal day for With A Little Help From Our Friends.

First rehearsals are pretty special things. You get the cast coming together for the first time. You often get the main heads of department showing up as well to stick their noses in and say G’Day. You get to see how well everyone gets along with each other. How well the lovers are going to be lovers, how well the villains are going to be villains. The first rehearsal is the first time you can really start to feel the weight of a film and judge exactly how much fun it’s going to be to make.

With A Little Help From Our Friends is going to be ridiculous fun.

In between everyone (except Markus) showing up on time, the immediate laughter once we all sat down in a group to say hello to each other to the roaring laughter as we rehearsed various scenes, WALHFOF is coming along really really well. I’ve been completely spoiled with an amazing cast and I’m already looking forward to the next set of rehearsals to really dive into the characters and explore the relationships between the four characters.

We’ve got a few weeks in between rehearsals now, so we’re thinking about various things separately – character, costumes, hair and make up etc – and I’ll be chatting to the actors via email to see what we can come up with individually before bringing it forward at the next rehearsal – which is the weekend before the shoot.

The other thing we’re considering doing is crowd-funding a section of the budget. The key is finding a model that works – some of the campaigns that are presented badly are 200% funded, some that are beautifully presented are struggling to get the full amount pledged. Something else to think about, at any rate.

I leave you with a few snaps of the rehearsal, courtesy of Craig. Enjoy!

Alli chats to the actors at the beginning of the rehearsal.

From left to right: Carolina Main (Lucy), Victoria Smith (Abby), Markus Copeland (Max), Danny Mahoney (Des) and the back of Alli’s head.

Markus and Danny

Carolina and Victoria

Markus exercises his angst face.

Abby and Max skipping into the sunset (improvised).

Markus and Danny take a break.

Lucy gets up in Abby’s face.

Pre-Production: Cast List

Auditions are done. Tough decisions have to be made. In this particular film, it is vital that the comradery between the actors is right, that they all look compatible as best friends, that they all look right on screen together. Don’t ask me what right looks like because it’s different for every filmmaker. This film was particularly difficult to cast as I had my picks of the actors themselves, but as soon as I started to take the ensemble of actors into consideration, things began to change.

So, here we are. The cast of ‘With A Little Help From Our Friends’:

Max: Markus Copeland

Des: Danny Mahoney
Abby: Victoria Smith
Lucy: Carolina Main
We have our first rehearsal on Sunday and I’m really looking forward to seeing how everyone bounces off each other and to see what magic we can make – cause that’s what happens in rehearsals. It’s a hard slog, don’t get me wrong, but rehearsals is where the film really starts to come together and you can see it sparkle.

Pre-Production: Auditions Part 05

For my previous posts on auditions, choose the one you want and click: A Cautionary Tale, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

When we last left talking about auditions, we were nearly ready to have the actors walk into the space and do their thing. Before you get there, you have to book them in. This is how I do it, which may not work for everyone, but it works well enough for me.

For WALHFOF, we were time restricted. We only had a few hours in the room and we had eighteen actors to see. I divided the time up into ten minute blocks, then allocated one ten minute block in every forty minutes to a different character. My reasoning is this: I didn’t want to see six Lucy’s in a row. Chances are, they’d all blend into each other and I wouldn’t be able to remember the first one. So I use the other auditions as markers. ‘That Lucy was the one after the Des in the green shirt,’ or ‘That Lucy was the one with the blue dress before the Abby with the massively curly hair.’ That way too I have no preconceptions of character from the actor before them – because the actor before them was auditioning for a different character.

Ten minutes might not seem like a lot. For a short film, it’s PLENTY. The first time I ever scheduled auditions, I scheduled them in half hour blocks. The auditions definitely didn’t go for half an hour, most went for ten minutes, fifteen if they were amazing, five if they were terrible. I learnt from that and realised that half an hour is way too much for a short. Trust me, if the actor is good, you’ll smash through everything you want them to in ten minutes. If the actor is bad, you won’t want much more than ten minutes with them because you know in the first thirty seconds. The actors know too. They are sizing you up just as much as you’re sizing them up.

Which brings me to the audition itself. This is the way I run my auditions.

Start with a chat. Small talk. Break the tension, talk about niceties. It was raining on our audition day, so we had instant small talk. Brilliant.

Make sure you introduce everyone. Regardless of whether you’ve been talking to them to organise the auditions or not, introduce everyone in the room – including yourself. Remember that you’re likely the only person who knows everyone there. You’ve seen the actors headshots, you know the guy operating the video camera. Be polite and make sure everyone knows who everyone else is.

– Chat to camera. To start off, I get the actors to chat to camera. They introduce themselves, their agency (if they have one) and I like to get them to say something about themselves. I know people who ask them about a project they’ve worked on that they particularly enjoyed, I know others who skip this bit entirely. This time around, I asked them to tell me (and by me, I mean the camera) something that I didn’t know about them. Turns out this was a lot tougher than it seemed, even though I didn’t know anything about any of them. Always get them to look straight down the barrel of the camera. That way, if you need it, you’ve got a back-up shot of their face.

– First run through. The first time we run the piece, I get them to do it fresh with no direction. It’s always interesting to see how they’ve read the character and the scenario without me pointing them in any particular direction. After all, one of them might’ve seen something entirely different in it and that’s something you can definitely explore. The first run through is also good to do loose as it gets rid of any jitters they might have. I’ve only ever had an actor nail a first run through once – they read it exactly as I saw all of it in my head. Needless to say, they got the part.

– Second run through. For me, the second run through depends on the actor. Generally, I jump straight in to having a bit of a play with it so that the actors have a bit of reign to put a bit more flair into it and then return to the way I properly see it unfolding once they’re a bit more familiar with the words. For WALHFOF, I got the actors to play the scene as though they were in a library. This was a really interesting concept because it also showed me how many of them were paying attention to my direction – there was a rising tension in the audition piece and although most people used the library setting to their advantage (getting frustrated and loud before realising they were in a library and retreating back to stage whispers), some did forget and stayed flat and whispering the whole time.

– Third run through. This is generally the point where the actors start to really get into it. The third run through can be the magic one (although you can often tell whether someone is going to be good in the first thirty seconds or so). I come back to the way I want it to run (out of the library and back to its original setting) and challenge the actors to lift the energy. Most of the time, they do.

– Fourth run through. This one depends on the actor. If I want a little more from them, I’ll give them a bit more direction and we’ll do a Third Run Through V2. If I’ve seen everything I need to see, this is something that I love doing with actors because I think they’re wonderful. For these particular auditions, I wanted to see how far the actors would push it and go with it. I wanted them to be big, loud, passionate, outrageous – I wanted them to go nuts with it. This was generally the run through that made me laugh the hardest, the one with the most physical comedy and the one that the actors seemed to enjoy the most.

For some actors, you might like to do a few extra run throughs of the script. It depends on what kind of film you’re making as to how you’d like to run your auditions. There is no right or wrong way. If you want tips, I’d suggest talking to actors to see what they think are the best audition techniques they’ve seen. After all, you want auditions that are going to get the best out of your actors, so why not ask some?

You’ve held your auditions. You’ve remembered your textas and paper. Everyone’s been amazing.

Now you have to cast.

Updates!

Sorry for the radio silence over the past two weeks, but I’m back and ready to go!

A quick update on where we’re at with the film:

We’ve had to shift the shoot date by two weeks, due to a couple of little things popping up, so we are now not shooting until November. This is both a good thing and a bad thing – I’d love to get the shoot over and done with already but an extra two weeks in pre-production probably won’t hurt. The danger with having a long pre-production is that you lose enthusiasm because it feels like nothing is getting done. I definitely don’t want to shift the shoot dates again, so cross your fingers that it all comes off all right.

Our first rehearsal is coming up next Sunday which should be exciting because the cast get to meet each other for the first time and we can have a serious play around with the script and see if we can make it even stronger. It’ll also be really interesting to workshop the characters with the actors as well as see how they all bounce off each other to test the chemistry between them all. I’m looking forward to getting all our creative heads into the one room and seeing what we come up with together.

We’re also looking into potentially crowd-funding a portion of the budget to help us get it over the line. The film is a pretty cheap short film as it stands and a little extra money would be great (as always), so that’s an avenue that we’re thinking about exploring as well.

We also need to consider where we can access lights fairly inexpensively and am starting to think about post-production too (yes, it’s always better to consider everything, including post, during pre-production).

I’m off to enjoy my Sunday, but I’ll continue with the Audition Saga this week and round that off, just in time to start talking about rehearsals! Yay!

Swapping, Changing, Compromising – Locations

Taking a break from talking about auditions and casting (although we’re nearly done there, I promise!), I thought I’d let you guys know what’s been happening with organising locations. About a month ago, I blogged about how we had managed to find a location but were still locking in dates. After casting, one of the actors told me that he’d just been cast in a play and the weekend we were hoping to shoot – the last weekend in October – so we decided to see if we could get the location for the first weekend of November instead, otherwise we would have to consider re-casting him, depending on his availability.

We could.

With the first weekend of November ready and locked in, I started to look at schedules and how I’d run the shoot. As the film is essentially three conversations intercut, I’m going to figure out the best ways to shoot it when we get on location.

But then Jack got a call from the theatre we’re using as a location. A dance company wanted to hire the theatre for both days on the first week of November and there was no way we’d be able to shoot around them. The last weekend of October was still available though or we could look at the second week of November instead. I decided that it was going to be best if we went for the last weekend in October and I had a chat with Danny, the actor who I’d cast as Des to find out what times he’d be available and if he’d be happy to jump from shooting WALHFOF straight into his play.

He said that he was really excited to be on board and was happy to go straight from one to the other and gave me a rough idea of the times he’d be available. They allowed for a much larger scope than I’d thought, so I didn’t have to recast, which was a relief. I told Jack to lock in shooting for the final weekend in October with the theatre and now we’re really ready to steam roll ahead.

Now we just have to hope that no-one else comes along and wants to hire the theatre for that weekend as well.

Fingers crossed.

Pre-Production: Auditions Part 03

The casting call.

It’s tough. Like I outlined in my post from earlier this week, the casting call is your pitch to actors. You want to inspire them to get involved in the project. You want them to take the time to click the ‘Apply’ button. You want them to want to give up their time to be a part of your little project, to make it the best it can possibly be.

This makes the casting call one of the most important pitches you will ever write.

You can’t give your actors the same pitch as you give your producer, your DOP, your crew. Your actors are different. They’re special. You want them to love your project as much as you do – if they really believe in what they’re doing, that will show on the screen. You can always tell if an actor doesn’t really care about what they’re doing. It might only be a split second in one shot, buried in 90 minutes, but that flicker is there. And the audience will see it and it could break the suspension of disbelief in the film and suddenly the audience aren’t invested any more but aren’t sure why.

Write a casting call that reflects the tone of your film. Remember that actors may have spent half an hour searching through casting calls, they’ve probably flicked through the list every few days or so. They’ve all seen dodgy looking casting calls, they’ve all seen casting calls for the same projects but with different titles and crew. You need to make yours stand out. Don’t be afraid to put your personality into it either – they’re not only reading to suss out the film, they also want to suss out the people behind the film. After all, you guys are going to be working pretty closely together, they want to know that it’ll be worth their time.

This is what I wrote for the casting call for ‘With A Little Help From Our Friends’:

Hi there! ‘With A Little Help From Our Friends’ is a seven minute short comedy film that is about two friends who are trying to convince their best friends not to date each other. Sounds confusing, but it’s a lot of fun – and, of course, has a twist at the end!

We’re shooting the last weekend in October (29th and 30th), in High Barnet, London. We, unfortunately, don’t have enough money to pay you but we will feed you, cover travel expenses (within reason – we probably won’t be able to fly you down from Glasgow!) and can promise you a good time on set – great crew, wicked script: we’re just looking for the perfect cast!

The film is being made by a collection of dedicated filmmakers with varying experience but the same amount of love for filmmaking. The script was shortlisted for a script competition last year (The London Screenwriters’ Festival Short Script Competition).

AUDITIONS ARE BEING HELD THIS SUNDAY 4TH SEPTEMBER FROM 11AM-2PM IN HIGH BARNET, LONDON.

Please do not apply if you have no intention of showing up for the audition. My iPhone only has so much battery to waste playing Angry Birds in the chunk of time you leave open.

If you have any questions, please get in touch, I’m more than happy to answer them!

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Alli
Writer and Director

It’s light, it’s a bit funny, it’s brief. Same as the film, really. It also helped when I wanted to reinforce about time-wasters (it worked too, everyone who had to pull out let me know they were doing so). But the amount of cover letters from enthused actors who were keen to get their hands on some comedy spoke volumes (I’ve spoken about comedy vs drama script before). The pitch worked. I got 100 odd applications for a reason.

Same rules apply for character descriptions. Make them interesting. Don’t be afraid to reveal things about your characters that happen in the script. People won’t even remember the character descriptions you posted by the time they see the film. Again, it’s about making the actors hungry to play a role like the one you’re describing. Here are my character descriptions:

MAX
19-22 years old, Max is intelligent, cheeky and is rarely seen without his best mate, Des. Max is usually the guy who has to convince Des out of his hair-brained schemes, but every so often he does allow himself to be dragged along and does have a lot of fun – until they get chased by a shopkeeper brandishing a broom or hiding in the bushes to hide from a small time security guard.

Max’s weakness is girls. He doesn’t quite know how to handle them and often finds himself talking at 100 miles per minute to avoid awkward silences. But when he spots Abby, it’s different. There’s an easiness there that makes it simple for him to be himself.

DES
19-22 years old. Loud. Dramatic. Physical. Des has an imagination that runs faster than Usain Bolt and he loves it. He’s never far away from his partner in crime, Max, although more often than not, the ideas are all Des’. He’s easy to talk to, but often says completely the wrong thing to girls who usually give him a swift slap across the face or a dark glare. He doesn’t mind, he knows that he’s awesome.

It’s when he comes across someone that he genuinely likes that his words and charm fail him and he isn’t sure what to do.

LUCY
19-22 years old. Lucy is full of boundless energy and enthusiasm, with a tinge of melodramatics and tends to over-exaggerate the smallest of things. Often, this leads into her wicked sense of humour and is somehow endearing to those who don’t know her.

But underneath the energy, Lucy is a little more shy when it comes to going out on a limb for her love life. After all, isn’t it more romantic to pine from the corner than go up and talk to the person that she likes?

ABBY
19-22 years old. Creative, quiet but with a vibrant streak that not many people get to see, Abby will always surprise you. She wants to be an actress, but she’s got a back up career in case she needs it. There’s two sides to Abby and a lot of people underestimate her due to the fact that she’s often standing in the shadow of her best friend Lucy. Abby doesn’t mind – she knows that if she keeps trying she’ll get where she wants to be in the end.

Can I let you in on a secret? Max and Des don’t get chased by a shop-keeper with a broom in the film. Des doesn’t get slapped by a girl. There are no scenes with Lucy seizing her chance and nervously telling the boy she likes that she likes him. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that all these things give you an idea of character, which then is built into the film through action. It gives the actors a chance to figure out who they want to play with, who they want to create, who they want to become.

Do you know the character who got the most applications? Abby. Easily. I’m still not sure why. Perhaps because she is described as a bit conflicted, perhaps because she’s the most relatable character in the set. I have no idea. But what I do know is that on audition day, the actors all came in and genuinely enjoyed auditioning for me. There was a fair amount of laughter and I think we all had a lot of fun.

Plus, no-one I eventually cast in the film complained about the lack of brooms or slaps in the script.