Monday, November 15, 2010

Picking actors

For the last week since I got back Chris and I are selecting actors for the script reading. It can also be called a table read for the lead cast with dialog to sit around a table and read their lines. Smaller roles are not really needed at the read.

This reading is a little different in that it's not for the film. It's just for me. 

At this point, Casualties of Love still has not been passed around potential investors. This will begin after this reading. In fact there's no guarantee that any of the actors I select will even be in the filming of Casualties. I was sure to tell them exactly that.

So why would they want to read a script that they might not even be hired for? 

Well, a gig is a gig, and one more step for an actor in their journey for attention and bigger parts. It's also something they can use on their credits. As I've mentioned in other blogs, credits are the lifeblood of an actor, director and writer. If your last credit was 4 years ago you don't exist anymore in the minds of agents and producers.

This theory goes with the suggestion that since nobody's hired you, then you must be either too old, not very good or hard to work with . Yep, it's a cold, hard business. AndI haven't had a credit in 4 years. But it's a lot harder for actors than writers, writers are the only people in film who don't have to have a job to work.

By that I mean we can write screenplays, "specs" as they're called. In fact the Hallmark movie called The Town That Christmas Forgot which will premiere November 25th, which I wrote, was a spec script, meaning there was no producer who had hired me to write it. It was literally "discovered" in a stack of other screenplays at Hallmark.

Specs are risky, they mostly don't get sold. I still have 34 specs on my "shelf" that haven't sold. I'm a little different then other writers though, I am very prolific, writing at least one or two specs a year. It's paid off several times.

And why can't I guarantee that one or all actors at the reading will be in the movie? This is where business begins to interfere with art. I need money to make Casualties. Not a lot, in fact very little, maybe as low as $10,000. After all my friend Randy at Doubleshot Films made 2 movies for $10,000.

And there's one thing about investors; they're going to want to see some guarantees when it comes to investing their money, even at $10,000. And that revolves around two things; distribution and cast.

What's the first thing anyone asks I say I'm making a movie? It's those three little words, the same, every time.

Who's in it?

So my investors will want to see who I can get for practically nothing. Remember that even low budget investors always think it's a big movie with a crew of 70 and stars... even for my miniscule budget that allows for donuts rather than cupcakes. My budget isn't even the cost of parking for big movies.

But yes, they'll want to see a "name", someone who has been in a big movie and that the dvd cover will show that name with a reference to the actor's participation. After the investors realize that I can't get George Clooney for the part (and  believe me, I've been asked that by investors more than once) they will settle for less.

More like someone who had a supporting role in a George Clooney movie.

So I can't guarantee these actors a part in the real movie. I can sure try to have them, fight for them and to be honest, they probably will be in the movie. But I'm upfront with the reality... they might not be in it.

See where I'm going. This reading coming up is primarily for me, so I can hear the words being spoken and -- acted. I will take notes as well as record it on digital video. Afterwards I will go through the whole screenplay again, filling in holes, cutting back long speeches, generally trimming it to a tight screenplay.

And the actors will give their all, as most actors do, because that's what they do.

(Thurs: The Reading)