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.

Pre-Production: Auditions Part 04

More in the auditions saga (A Cautionary Tale, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).

Where you hold your auditions is also important. You want somewhere that has enough space for the actors not to feel inhibited but, as it’s for a low/no budget film, you don’t want to have too much physical space between you and the actor. Yeah, in movies and on television, the actor/dancer/performer walks nervously out of the wings onto the stage and the producer and director are sitting bored seventeen rows back in a theatre.

You’re not them. You want to be able to see their faces, their expressions. Headshots can hide a lot – I’ve lost count of the amount of times that actors have come in and I’ve only vaguely recognised them from their headshots. But the most important thing to remember is that the audience will be watching their faces. If you’re sitting seventeen rows away from them, how will you remember the twinkle in the eye, the quirk of their mouth? You won’t. You can hope that the camera you’re filming the auditions on will pick it up, but you want to get caught in the actor’s spell. So let yourself be close enough to do so.

Which brings me to:

This is all the stuff I take to an audition.

Cedric, my laptop. I use Ced to update the spreadsheet to make a note of which actors have shown up, which actors haven’t, any other notes I want to make. I try not to make these with pencil so that none of the actors coming in afterward don’t spot anything and try to change their performances. I think it’s really important that you CLOSE your laptop during an actor’s audition – how are you going to make notes on their performance if you aren’t watching? Plus, they’re taking time out of their day to come and see you – it’s about respect. I make notes in the times between actors – if it’s important, you’ll remember it. If it’s really important, then make a vague note in pencil and clarify it for yourself later.
Pens, pencils and highlighters. Always really handy to have around in general. I’m one of those people who always has a pen and paper in my bag anyway. Highlighters are good to cross names off lists – or make a note of the actors you’re black listing because they haven’t shown up.
Spare copies of the audition pieces. You’ll want one for you to follow along with. You’ll want one for the reader (if you have one) to read from. You’ll want a spare one because there are always actors who haven’t been able to bring them along. And you’ll want a spare one for the spare one because the spare one gets rumpled. It’s always good to have a few extra copies.
Spare copies of the audition timetable. Depending on how many people you are running the auditions with, it’s always a good idea to have spares in case you lose/spill coffee on/it gets stolen by green squirrels.
Camera. As I mentioned earlier, headshots can sometimes lie. Try and look at actors headshots in colour – they always look different than their black and white shots. The best way to get around this is to decide whether their headshot kind of matches the face of your characters, then take a less professional shot of them on the day. I took my camera along to the auditions then proceeded to forget all about taking shots during the audition. It’s annoying because during the decision making process, I had to rely on memory and the video to decide how much they looked like their headshots.

Video Camera (not pictured). Always film your auditions. You can sometimes get a good sense of who to cast instantly, but there will inevitably be (as there was this time around) several actors vying for the part in your head. The best thing to do is rewatch them and decide who is right for the project.

Hard-drive, card reader and spare battery. Because we were shooting the auditions digitally, I knew we’d have to dump the cards at some stage and I knew the files would be too big to fit onto my computer. Spare battery is one of those things you always forget, then desperately need.
Yep. Sticky tape and a Sharpie. Or texta. Or a marker pen. Whatever country you come from, these are really important things I always manage to forget about. Except this time, thankfully. What isn’t pictured here, but is up in the top picture, is blank paper. You will ALWAYS need to make signs. If you have time, print them up the night before. Chances are, you won’t have time or you’ll realise that the place you’re holding the auditions is a little harder to find than you thought or you want the actors to sit in one spot to wait instead of the other spot. Either way, these are always really handy to have on…well, on hand.
You’re nearly ready. How exciting is this?

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).


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!

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:

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.

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.

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?

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.

Pre-Production: Auditions Part 02

You’ve got your script. You’ve conned someone into being your producer. You’re starting to get the locations together, you’re thinking about what camera you’re going to shoot on but you need one of the most important departments of filmmaking sorted before you move too much further forward.

The actors.

Without actors, you don’t have much of a film. Arguably, you don’t have a film at all. How often do you watch a film at the cinema and come out critiquing the performances? “She was AMAZING. He was great. But that OTHER girl? What were they thinking casting HER?! I could do better!” Maybe not quite that extreme, but I’m sure you’ve all seen a film with terrible acting. Sometimes it’s so bad it’s good, sometimes it’s just bad.

But with the bad comes the good. And the great. And the phenomenal! Admittedly, the phenomenal is much harder to find when you can only cover expenses for your actors, but it can definitely be done. You just need to know where to look.

In every city there are out of work actors. There are actors who have just graduated from acting school, actors looking to update their showreel, actors with some extra time on their hands – actors who are willing to do something for free. GOOD actors too. Not all actors who work for free are terrible actors with no experience. On the contrary, I have to say that for nearly every set of auditions I’ve ever held, the good actors have definitely outweighed the bad.

Where there are out of work actors, there are places you can advertise your film. Google it. Ask actors where they go to hunt out work. It is quite an easy process now. But always have a look around the site before you place your casting call – sometimes you’ll be able to gauge the quality of actors by the way the site is set up. Most of the good sites will work to protect their actors privacy, so don’t be surprised if you have to register all your details before you post.

This research is also good to see what kind of projects people are pitching. More often than not, short films are drama (I’ve spoken about drama vs comedy before here) so if yours is as well, read a few others to see how you can make your casting call stand out. Remember that actors will read the same kinds of pitches every day. What is it about your film that makes it different? Why should the actors give up their time and work for free on yours instead of any other one on the page?

Make your pitch and character descriptions as interesting as possible. ‘With A Little Help From Our Friends’ is a comedy. So I kept the pitch light and threw in a few jokes. People responded to that. They clicked open the character descriptions to have a read because it got them interested. The content was light and the tone of the casting call was comical. I do think I would’ve gotten less applications if I’d been making a drama. Look out for a post in the next few days – I’ll show you how I wrote my character breakdowns and which characters got the most applications.

Keep it brief. If you only take one piece of advice away from this post, make it this. And I think this applies to ALL pitching. You never know how much time the person you’re pitching to (whether it be behind a computer or in front of your face) has, so keep it clear, concise and to the point. Don’t show all your cards, but do give enough information to spark a bit of interest. Cover the main points and then let the pitch speak for itself.

My last piece of advice for setting up your casting call is this:

Keep an open mind. You’ve got nothing to lose but a bit of time when you’re auditioning people. And auditions are often held when you do have some time to spare, so you may as well ask as many people as you can to come in – regardless of whether they match the character in your head or not. Don’t be afraid to look where you wouldn’t expect because you never know what you might find.

Good luck!

Pre-Production: Auditions – Part 01

I am delighted to report that regardless of any qualms or nerves expressed in previous posts, the auditions for With A Little Help From Our Friends went mind-blowingly well.

I’ll break down the process during the week, but in summary (at the beginning, I know, it’s a bit weird) we had:

– Roughly 100 applications for roles
– I asked 20 people to audition
– 18 booked spots on the day
– 14 of those 18 showed up.

Of the four who didn’t show up, every single one of them sent apologetic text messages or emails.

The auditions themselves went great. I always get a little nervous that someone will come in and be a terrible actor and I’ll have to bluff my way through five minutes of awkwardly playing around with the material so that they don’t feel too shafted, but every single actor who came to meet Jack and I was really really great.

Which, of course, has made my job a lot harder to try and choose who my Max, Des, Abby and Lucy are.

It’s frustrating when auditions go well. I now wish I could write extra parts for other actors I saw so that they’re still included in the film, but with a short, that’s nearly impossible. It’s tough because each actor brings something different to the character and it’s all about figuring out if that dynamic will work with another actor’s dynamic and really bring out the best in the script and look arresting on screen.

The one thing I am pretty terrible at during auditions is my poker face. I remember having discussions about this at university when we would hold auditions for our student films. If you’re auditioning someone, should you give them the satisfaction of reacting favourably to their performance? I’m not sure, to be honest. I’ve never been ‘taught’ the ‘right’ way to hold auditions, so I just hold them how I think they should be done. A director I worked with once wouldn’t let me be the reader (read the cue lines of dialogue in a script for an audition) because I was ‘acting’ them too much. He was of the opinion that you should read them as flat as possible to test the actor’s ability. I tend to disagree with that – surely you want to get the best out of your actor so you give them the safest and most comfortable space to perform in?

With that mindset, I’m fairly positive that I had very little poker face-ing skills on Sunday. For one, actors were genuinely enjoying performing my dialogue which is more than enough to bring a smile to my face. But when the acting is spot on in a comedy, when the timing is right, keeping a straight face and resisting the urge to laugh is slightly tougher than you’d think.

Right, enough procrastination. I’m off to giggle at my dialogue and deliberate over my cast once again. Her and him? Do they make a believeable couple? Do those two look like best friends? Or maybe them. But he was a stronger actor.

Gah. Wish me luck!

Pre-Production: Organising Auditions; A Cautionary Tale

Operation: Playstation

This week has been entirely flat out for me. Not only did we lose a day to a three day weekend (trust me, I am not complaining about that in the slightest!), but my ‘normal’ nine-to-five job has kicked up a notch in the past two weeks and it’s all go go go at work as well as go go go with the film.

Mind you, that’s just how I like it.

As you know if you read my post earlier this week, we’ve started organising auditions for actors to find our perfect Abby, Max, Des and Lucy. Finding actors to work for free is a hard task but I completely love casting. I think it’s something about knowing that when someone walks into a room, they could be the person who is going to BE the Max I created in my head nearly a year ago. Or they could totally transform Lucy into someone who I hadn’t even thought that she was. Not to mention the kinds of people you meet in auditions – I don’t know if you know this, but people are fascinating. Especially actors. Actors have a kind of zing about them. They always seem to get along quite well with my imagination and I end up writing a film for them to be in.

Which is kind of exactly what happened on the last short film I wrote and directed. ‘Operation: Playstation’. I had met an actor through auditioning him for a role the year before. Dylan was amazing and I fought really hard to get him cast in the film, but in the end he looked too young for the part (casting is all about the right LOOK as well as good acting!). But the two of us stayed friends and one particular time, a year later, we met up for a hot chocolate and I asked him if he’d read a script I’d been working on. He read it right there in front of me (always a risky move for both parties) and I couldn’t stop smiling when he started laughing at different points – it was a comedy so that was the right reaction. He said he thought it was great and I told him that I wanted him to play the lead because I’d written the script with him in mind as the main role.

His eyes lit up and he immediately agreed. Thankfully.

With Dylan on board, I was confident that we’d be able to get the other roles fairly easily. After all, the main role of Jack was the character that the whole film hung on. As we moved forward in pre-production, I put the call out for actors. Admittedly, it was technically a ‘student’ film, but it was my graduate film and barely anyone else working in the crew was a student – I pulled favours with crew I’d professionally worked with to help me out. Deliberately downplaying the ‘student’ side of it (I was treating it as a professional short film, after all), the ad was up for ten minutes before I had my first application. Over the next 24 hours, I probably had around 50 actors apply for the various roles.

I sorted through the headshots, viewed showreels and read cover letters to see who I thought would be good to see. There were people with a lot of experience, people with not so much, but I wasn’t too bothered by the lack of experience – if they can do a good job then it doesn’t matter.

I replied to about 30 of those 50, asking them to come in for an audition.

Of those 30, 15 booked in times.

Of those 15, 4 showed up on the day.

Sobering, right? I don’t even remember anyone ringing to cancel their time – people just didn’t show up. I’d asked Dylan to come along to the auditions, so the majority of the day the two of us ended up watching videos on YouTube.

But of those 4, 2 were great.

So I offered them the roles.

After specifying the shooting dates on the casting call, on the audition information and confirming they were still available, one of them declined the role because she was in the middle of a three week holiday.

The other actor didn’t show up to rehearsals and never returned my calls or texts.

CRISIS. We have no cast, besides Dylan. I talk to Dylan about it, who is very aware of how close this is to turning into a car crash, when he says he can talk his mate into taking a role. He’s an actor too. Plus, Dyl’s girlfriend is an actress. Then I realised that I knew a group of people from high school who I’d done drama with who might be interested as well.

Between the two of us talking to people we knew, we found the cast we needed.

And you know what? The acting is the strongest part of the entire film. In every single role.

Before you ask, the film still needs to be graded (sorry guys!) and it’s currently at home in Australia feeling lonely and abandoned, so no, you can’t watch it online anywhere. But what this did do was LOWER MY EXPECTATIONS. Not in a bad way, in a realistic way.

‘With A Little Help From Our Friends’ has had about 90 applications for cast. Amazing. Because we’re restricted by time in the space, I whittled that down to 18 (which was incredibly difficult because there were so many who were dancing on the maybe line). Of that 18, 16 have booked in for auditions and an extra 1 has apologised because the time clashes with another project she’s rehearsing for.

I’m really happy with that hit rate so far. But I’m being realistic.

I’ll post a blog on Monday and let you know how it goes. And I’ll break down how I went about organising the auditions. I just wanted to post about how catastrophically wrong they can go – and you guys can say that it happened to a friend of a friend of yours and mean it.

Call to Arms

So it begins.

The hunt for actors.

I’m holding auditions this Sunday up in High Barnet and my fingers are crossed that there will be a few people who actually show up. I know that it can be really hard to get actors to get excited about a film that they’re not being paid for, but I’m sure there are a lot out there. In my experience, the actors who are doing it for love are generally some of the best ones, just simmering and waiting to shove open the door that will catapult them forward. It also means that they’re passionate and I think that that is key to working on a low/no budget film. If everyone you surround yourself with on set is passionate about what they do (it may not always necessarily be passion for the project – I’ve worked on sets like that before), it means that there will always be someone who is removed from the issue you’re stressing about and can help pull you out of it.

The casting call is here for the moment – depending on the kind of response, I may put it up around a few more places. If you could share the link around and get the word out, that would be fantastic.

I do have a few actors I already know who I am going to get in touch with later today and hopefully they’ll be available to come in and say G’Day. The really great thing about this script is that I’m not totally locked in to what the characters should look or like. There is a look to each in my head – don’t get me wrong – but if someone comes in and blows my mind, then they’ll get the part, regardless of ethnicity, accent or anything like that. None of the characters are particularly specific (although, I’m toying with the idea of a Liverpudlian accent for at least one character to continue with the Beatles’ undertones) so I’m completely open to anyone who can simply come in and own the part.

I’m excited.

This is where it all starts to get real.


Check out the audition notice! (I deliberately put a bit of humour in it cause…well, the script’s a bit funny.)


I am incredibly pleased to say that we are one step closer to making With A Little Help From Our Friends! I say one step, however, this week a couple of steps have gone forward and the film is looking like it is definitely going to happen which is exciting because for awhile there I didn’t think it was going to get off the ground.

Firstly, we have a Director of Photography – my friend Jamie has been foolish or brave enough to agree to shoot the film for me. I’ve actually blogged about him before (here and here) and I really love the style he shoots his work in. All the work I’ve seen of his has an almost dream-like quality to it but still manages to balance the real world within the frame as well. I’m looking forward to talking to him further about the kind of style I’d like for WALHFOF, but at the same time I trust his judgment as a cinematographer and a filmmaker and am confident that we’re going to get some absolutely gorgeous images come shoot days.

Secondly, it looks as though we’ve got our location. We’re still waiting on confirmation of dates, but it seems to be a goer. I mentioned here a few weeks ago about the issues we were having finding locations and then spoke in last week’s post about how we were going to tackle a workaround. Jack spoke to the drama school that he had access to and the two of us went on a recce to check the place out on Saturday evening. It’s a really great location and very filming friendly in that it’s quite big with lots of rooms for alternative locations if we need them. There were three rooms that I walked into and immediately knew I wanted to shoot there because it was so visually interesting. Jack is speaking to them to confirm their dates of availability and hopefully we’ll lock something in and away we’ll go!

The shift in location from university to drama school has meant that I’ve had to rewrite the script with the new locations in mind. This, to be honest (and to my relief), wasn’t that difficult. I’d expected it to be a lot harder but the new locations slipped into place really easily. I had to adjust some of the dialogue to fit, changed what the characters were doing in the scenes – from studying books to learning lines etc – and it still stands pretty strongly on its own two feet.

Craig, Jack and I got together on Sunday and had a meeting to touch base on where we are currently at. Craig is confident he can slash the estimated budget we’d been toying with in half, based on our contacts and skills at doing something for nothing. A massive coup came from the fact that we will not have to pay location fees! Because Jack knows the owners of the school quite well and has done a lot of filming in the past, they’re willing to give the location to us for free as long as we work around them with shoot dates. Seems more than reasonable to me. See, low-budget filmmaking is all about cashing in on favours and networking – they’re not lying! Jack is also looking for a space to hold auditions in the first week of September. I’m writing up monologues for the actors who audition to learn that have more of an idea of the character and the type of person that they’re playing and sussing out which other crew roles we might need moving forward.

All in all, a pretty productive week!

Stay tuned to see what chaos unfolds next – as it always does!

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Thinking Outside The Box

Hi everyone! Sorry the blog post is a little later than usual this week – it’s been a crazy few days in Londonia, as well as trying to figure out what we’re going to do about our location problems.

If you caught last week’s blog post, you’ll know that we’re having some issues trying to find a location that isn’t going to charge us an arm and a leg to shoot there. I’ve been chatting to heaps of people about alternative ideas – renting an empty space and buying bookshelves to make it look like a library set, shooting in a library and then creating the classrooms, reconsidering the locations to make it slightly more accessible… all sorts of solutions but none of them seemed much easier than any other.

Then Jack suggested that we look into drama schools. He had access to one and he thought that he might be able to swing it with the owners. And as he listed the rooms we could potentially have access to, my eyes lit up. It seems like a great alternative to a college and quite a vibrant alternative at that. Plus, as it’s a drama school, we can offer to audition their students and use them as extras as extra incentive. I told him to go for it. We’ve got nothing to lose by asking them, at any rate. He’s trying to organise a time when we can look at it that works for everyone (all our different working hours aren’t exactly syncing up perfectly) and we’ll do a recce for the location and see what we can work with.

Which brings me to my next point – actors.

It’s getting closer to one of my favourite parts of the film-making process. I absolutely adore casting. For me, it’s the part where the film starts to become real. Plus, I love watching people put their own spin on characters that I’ve created to see how differently they can come across.

I’m still working out when auditions are going to be held, but I know I’m going to have to write new monologues for the actors who are coming in. The script as it stands isn’t exactly conducive to auditioning solo  (it is very much focused on dynamics between people), so in the next week or so I’ll be writing four new scenarios – one for each character – to use as audition pieces. I’ve already got my eye on a few actors I’d like to ask to audition through Twitter, but I’ll definitely be exploring a few avenues to get the word out about it.

And as well as actors, I have to seriously start thinking about assembling crew. I have someone in mind to ask about being the Director of Photography but many of the other crew roles are still sadly empty.

I’m going to have to start hunting people out!