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Gore and Loathing in Phoenix V: The Recasting 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.

After the "weekend of hell" when all but the entire cast had quit or been let go, I had come to the conclusion that I would never cast a movie again. I immediately put this lesson to use as other members of the crew stepped up to the plate and took over the second round of casting.

I wanted to do as many jobs as I could on this movie and to be honest I had a lot of trouble delegating at first. I had wanted to learn by experiencing and I learned that I suck at casting.

My casting director and production coordinator took over the task; all I had to do was pay for ads and show up for the auditions. I delayed the shoot for 3 weeks and let others do the job much better than I could.

The day of the auditions was also the day I was going to have the location (a co-workers house) painted for the shoot; I would have no bland white walls in my movie. The lady handling the paint job didn't arrange to have enough reliable people there to do the task, so I ended up having to at the last minute arrange for somebody to help paint and could only get one guy; he would later turn out to be one of my most valuable crewmembers.

I did manage to get to the auditions (all the time the painting at the location was on my mind) and was a little disappointed when again, as with my first set of auditions, the turn-out was less the had hoped; but then again when you are paying nothing or next to nothing, that's what happens. You have to live with it.

The auditions went much better than the ones I had held, mainly because I had nothing to do with them. I wasn't even allowed to hardly talk to the actors or even leave my room.

Of the people who did show, the actresses were rather good. The men who wanted to play the lead of Mickey were all decent actors, but…I guess I should explain a bit about the male lead: Mickey.

Mickey is supposed to be something of a sleazy, but occasionally charming guy. Over the course of the flick he slowly turns into a zombie-like thing. He starts looking more and more f**ked up, he can't speak right, he grunts out lots of one word lines, and he eventually turns into a full- blown monster. When creating the character, I thought that acting like a guy slowly turning into a zombie would be easy. I'm a very stupid man at times.

The acting like a man part, most of the guys could get. The zombie part was utterly impossible. To make matters worse, I had the perfect man for the job, but he had already bailed during the "weekend of hell". But I was still comparing all of these prospective Mickey's with him.

At the end of the auditions we had everyone but a lead actor. I put off casting the lead, still seeing actors and such all the way up to a week before shooting. I even talked to a young "name" actor who had shown an interest, but nothing came of it.

Then "he" came into the picture, the man who was more Mickey than Mickey. He knew my lead actress and he loved low-budget horror (he also is one of the few people on the set who realizes what type of flick I'm trying to make since he watches these things). I had him audition by simply reading his lines off a computer monitor since I had no copies of the script available; even under these conditions, he could deliver one-word lines not like a zombie, but as a man turning into a zombie. He was perfect.

I must say I lied earlier when I said that I had nothing to do with casting; in my depression over recasting I did something drastic, I took a stab at getting a "name" actress involved. I thought what the hell I have nothing to loose at this point I don't even have a cast.

I have been a big fan of Brinke Stevens for many years. Besides seeing many of her movies I read many of the horror industry magazines: Draculina, Femme Fatales, Fangoria (of course), etc. I read any article on the making of horror movies especially low budget ones, and one thing everyone said about Brinke was that she was great to work with. I had recently read a short article on her in a magazine and it quoted her as having acted in 13 movies last year. I thought I'd just send her the screenplay and see what she thinks.

When I received a response to my email I didn't even believe I was corresponding with her, but it turned out she liked the script, and she was willing to fit one of the bit parts into her schedule.

I had a name actress! Me, the man with a proven record of sucking big-time at casting, got us a name actress. A name actress I had only dreamed of working with. A few weeks earlier I had nothing, I suddenly had a "name" and I had found the perfect Mickey just in time for shooting.

Of course now we had to shoot this flick and that turned out be a little more interesting than I thought.