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!

A Bit of a Speed Bump

It’s been a bit quiet on the blogging front for the past week or so due to lack of internet access and other various bits and pieces that are bubbling away in the real world which keep getting in the way of my virtual world. I hope that you’re all having wonderful fun whichever world you live in.

I, however, have hit a bit of a speed bump.

Things have been happening behind the scenes that I haven’t yet been blogging about. We were in talks with a Director of Photography (DOP) to come on board for the project and I had been daydreaming about locations and soundies (although I always daydream about locations and soundies). But as nothing was really concreted in as yet, I thought I’d stick with blogging about writing for the moment and as things got rolling closer and closer to production, I’d have more production-like issues, excitements and let downs to tell you all about.

Last week I got an email from Oli, my producer. He told me that, as all good producers do, he’d filled his plate entirely for the next few months. With various other things going on, it meant that he couldn’t get around to seriously concentrating on ‘With A Little Help From Our Friends’ until July. He wanted to give me the option of taking it to another producer as he understood I would want to get the film made and it wasn’t fair on me to be waiting on him.

So now I have a bit of a dilemma.

I wrote ‘With A Little Help From Our Friends’ nearly a year ago. In the space of a year, I cannot even begin to describe how much I’ve learnt about writing and how much I feel that I’ve improved. I read the current draft of ‘Friends’ last night, having felt in February that it was as tight as it could possibly be, and found myself cutting scenes, tightening dialogue and making it stronger again.

However, I do want to make something. But I kind of feel that myself, as a writer, can write something better. That’s not to say I don’t love my ‘Friends’ script any less, I simply feel that if we were going to wait until July to shoot, in the interim I could write something new, fresh and sparkly to create a new excitement to run with. I don’t know if I’d be able to find another producer to come on board and really kick things into gear over the next month.

So I’m torn between plugging away at ‘Friends’ or writing something new.

Watch this space.

BY THE WAY:
Do you remember that Guerilla Filmmakers’ Masterclass I mentioned a couple of weeks ago? Well, I managed to nick a discount code! The price is £119 for the weekend, but if you submit PARKER as the discount code as payment, you’ll get it knocked back to £65!

The things I do for you guys.

Seriously though, it’ll be a fantastic weekend and with the discount it’s an absolute steal. All the details are here. Go and get a ticket!