Gore and Loathing in Phoenix III: The Casting of "One Bloody Night"
Part of a series of essays related to the on-going production of an Arizona-based indie horror film, One Bloody Night.
I changed the ring on my cell phone recently; every time I heard the old ring it reminded me of actors. The thought that an actor, a prospective actor or someone who wants to give me news of actors, was possibly behind the ring of my cell made me cringe and want to curl up in my bed and hide my head under the covers.
Let's get one thing straight: I actually like actors and the people who would be actors; that is part of the problem. I want everybody to have a role - not only a role, but also a role they will like. I wrote this screenplay with the idea to have very few parts and hence ease the burden of casting. That was an incredibly bad move on my part.
The truth is when you have very few actors, the actors you do have are thrust into positions of carrying the movie. Add to that the many people who will come along and might not be right for the leads, but are still very capable actors are rejected or put into bit parts that in turn leave some of the great amateurs who could easily get their start left out in the cold.
I had no idea how to find actors, and I didn't have the money for the agencies that would gladly put me contact with actors (for a fee) or the aid of a casting director (another costly luxury for this flick), so I set out to do it on my own.
I decided before I was going to audition these actors or even go looking in earnest, I needed an ally. What better way to find actors than to enlist one of them into my ranks. I studied the resumes and such of several who had sent me emails.
Let's talk about these emails at first. I had originally set out to make a movie filled with nudity, some sex and a bit of blood and gore. I figured if I was doing the gore it was going to be rather limited and that I should err on the side of having plenty of nudity and some sex to sell the movie. Not my proudest moment or my best decision, but it was my reasoning at the beginning of this project; if I'm making a movie to be marketable than I will damn well make it marketable.
With this logic I made it very apparent on the website (where I referred all prospective cast and crew) that the acting positions would require nudity and some other acts. I wanted to scare off the faint of heart and only attract actors who would not be timid at showing off their bodies. To this end I went overboard on the website and surely scared off many actors right off the bat. It also attracted plenty of people who I wouldn't exactly call actors, but let's just say "performers". I also received plenty of pictures in my email from ladies who I could tell were very un-bashful, but had dubious acting credentials.
And remember my problem: I need actors, not just naked people. Even if they're naked people with unique "skills" or particularly large naked parts, and I mean f**kin' huge.
Through these emails I found several actresses and from these I picked a few to help do readings with the other hopefuls. One of these actresses turned out to be the ally I was looking for and before even reading the screenplay gave me several ideas on where to place ads to find a cast.
I eventually gathered a group of people to help me audition the prospects and we held to days of open auditions. I had settled on doing an open casting call. My reasoning was that I wanted to get as many different types to show up even if they didn't say fit the tight requirements for the lead roles. I wanted to meet as many actors as possible and make contacts and, as I explained to many of the actors, if I don't have a place for a particular actor in this flick I will be making many more and could surely use many of them later in another flick.
I did get an eclectic bunch to show up. I hate auditioning people. I have had to interview people for positions before and I hate that; auditioning is much worse. The prospects are nervous and have to perform through their nerves; it's heartbreaking to watch the results at times. At other times you are just mystified at what some of these people are thinking, especially the ones who show up who are obviously on something or who are wildly inappropriate for a given role, but then again I wanted all kinds to show up and boy, did I get my wish.
I could go on for several pages on the auditions alone, but let's just say I found my cast. I thought. I was content. I thought. I had no idea of what was ahead.