It's true. Not only Biblically speaking, but also with casting (for very different reasons, however). Out of hundreds of submissions, there are only a limited number of roles to fill. For WRITERS' BLOCK that is a lean total of 9 roles. Period. And one of those is a voice-over!
Compared to ALONE YET NOT ALONE -- over 70 speaking roles and a few hundred extras -- this is simple, although it does mean saying "No" to a lot of talented individuals that might otherwise fit the part.
All right... enough preliminaries! Here is the breakdown of the finalized cast for WRITERS' BLOCK:
Jeff Rose as "STEWART 'STU' HARVEY"
Jason Burkey as "CHIP LENINSKOVICH"
Sandra Van Natta as "AGNES DEMINT"
Jim McKeny as "CHESTER MAYER"
Jenn Gotzon as "ELAINE GIBSON"
Rich Swingle as "FORREST WOODS"
Gary Bosek as "FRANK"
Curtis Louder as "HENRY"
We'll have cast bios up on the website here shortly: www.writersblockmovie.com
Now that I've wrapped up my Casting duties, I am moving on to 2nd AD and Script Supervisor capacities. Production starts this Saturday with our first full C & C rehearsal. Today and tomorrow we are moving all our things to the shooting location.
Busy right now? Quite. This tunnel will take several weeks to come out of, so you probably won't hear from me here for another month, at least. Orange ewe glahd aye tooke de thyme two right ahliddle? ;)
When I arrived back in VA after my six-week jaunt in TX, I plunged directly into work on a new feature film: WRITERS' BLOCK (working title).
It is the inaugural film of Advent's new Associates Film Program, and my brother is the producer. (Yay, go David! :D) It's a unique project, combining a $20,000 budget, 10-day shooting schedule, 1940s story setting, and professional talent. That last part is where I come in. I am the Casting Director.
This is not my first time serving in this area, having worked as a full time casting assistant for six months last year on the production of ALONE YET NOT ALONE. The entire experience was intensely educational for me. Not only was I learning the creative aspects of identifying who could fit in what role, and how to evaluate auditions, but also the business skills for the negotiations, paperwork, and the proper way to interact with the different sides of the situation...be it the actors, the director and producers, the wardrobe department, etc.
I learned that casting a film is an exercise in patience and persistence. Which is a good thing, because these qualities are like muscle tone: if you don't use 'em, you lose 'em. They work as a team. Patience is like the extension, and persistence the contraction of the muscle. And when you "stretch" often with prayer and thankfulness, it helps keep peace of mind and not get "sore" (stressed out).
I was asked to share on this subject at Advent's 3-Day Film Workshop this year. No, not exercise! Casting. After much deliberation and distilling of material, I presented an overview of the casting endeavor, parsing it into six phases of action: Prepare, Promote, Parade, Process, Pick, and Paperwork.
Here's the basic breakdown:
Preparation entails first identifying your casting goals, then inventorying your means to accomplish them, and thirdly creating the infrastructure to support the workflow effectively. How many roles do you have to fill, and how flexible or not are the character profiles? What level of talent will the budget allow? How much time to you have to complete casting? Will you be able to pull in actors from across the country, or do you need to stick to local talent pools? Are live open calls a practical method, or would it be more streamlined to ask for online audition submissions? What is the plan for callbacks? The answers to these questions will have a direct impact on how you proceed.
Promotion means getting the word out that you want actors to submit for the movie. Casting notices can go on actors database websites, forums, social networks, get sent to acting teachers or talent agencies, local theatre groups, church drama teams, etc (all depending on the reach of the production). Personal contact may be made with certain actors whom you have in mind already as a good option for a role. From there, word of mouth is a powerful force. The key is to be clear on your desires and expectations for each role, accurate in your description of the project, and provide a ready course of action for talent submissions.
Now comes the Parade! Just like it sounds: a train of talent streaming through, be it live or via online video, or maybe even both. If you are conducting live auditions, be sure to do "screen-tests" by recording the audition on camera. Stream the feed directly into a monitor, and watch the screen, not the actor. I repeat: watch the screen, not the actor. Label the video clips and file them for review. There will likely be requests to submit after casting has "closed." It's up to you, but if they want to spend the time putting together an audition, with the understanding that chances are slim, it can't hurt to have it on file for future projects.
Processing is closely linked to the previous phase, because the notes you take (on paper and/or mentally) of each performance inform the "score" that actor receives and determines whether they make it to the next round of auditions. I use color codes, as it makes it easy to see at a glance how the game is going. Red, orange, yellow, green, and blue, with greens and blues getting a callback. During callbacks is when we can spend more time working with the actor on the scene/s and evaluate their understanding of the character, how easy they are to collaborate with, and whether they can take direction well.
Picking is the part that most people think of when they hear the word "casting." It isn't as simple as pointing to a headshot and proclaiming: "I want them!" Once a casting decision is "made," the casting director must contact the desired talent through their agent or manager (if applicable) and present the offer. If schedule conflicts can be taken care of, travel and lodging accommodations agreed to, compensation negotiated satisfactorily, and other various concerns addressed, then the deal can go on to the next step. If an agreement cannot be reached, the decision-makers must return to the list of runners-up and select an alternate choice. All the above times the number of roles in play, and usually simultaneously in sequence, as the casting deadline steadily approaches!
Though the last phase is not as glamorous, it is necessary.
Paperwork, rarely someone's favorite word, is in the casting context like an arrow pointing to the parking lot after an arduous road trip. But you still have to "park": deal memos must be negotiated, drafted, sent, and signed to seal the transaction (sigh of relief!). Sizes are then requested (if not before) to give the wardrobe department the time needed to procure or construct the costumes, and travel and housing arrangements are made in accordance with the agreed-upon terms. Volunteer actors are not exempt from this phase. They must still complete a legal release form for the production to use their likeness in the film.
That's a summary of what has been keeping me busy for the last month. Yes, many are called.... but that is only the beginning. Stay tuned! Next week I hope to be able to announce some of our finalized WRITERS' BLOCK cast. :-)
Since the last week in June, I have been on production for a feature film called "Indescribable." We are entering our final week of principal photography tomorrow, and I'd appreciate your prayers!
Follow the link below to see:
BTS pictures from the set of INDESCRIBABLE!
So. Here's a little of what's been going on:
1. Wrapped on principal photography for "The Rev" last weekend (NEW title coming soon! Keep an eye on the website for a preliminary trailer: www.glorystreamsproductions.com). It was a great experience working with everyone on that. :-)
2. Gearing up for the 3-Day Advent Film Workshop next week (lots of exciting new speakers and topics). You can see the workshop schedule here.
3. Took a day "off" today to pack for a 5-week stint in TX on the set of "Indescribable."
4. Bible study this afternoon—Proverbs 1 and 1 John 2 = awesome stuff!
5. Looks like I'll get to bed before midnight tonight (which will be a record for recent history).
6. I have much to be thankful for. (Cue song: "I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart...")
So yes, there has been a lot going on recently, and it's going to stay pretty busy for a while yet. (In fact, my blog posts may be a little irregular for a month or two)
Here are some verses that have been tumbling around lately in my dizzified heart:
The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Hebrews 4: 9-11, 15-16
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. ...We do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
1 Peter 4: 10-12
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Isaiah 26:3-4, 7-9, 12
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal. The path of the righteous is level; you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth. Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts. My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you. LORD, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.
The summary? That even in the midst of all the busyness life can throw at me, God's goodness is my shadow, His grace is more than sufficient, and I can trustfully rest in His peace as I do each task in HIS strength. Furthermore, He gets all the credit. :-)
Goodness gracious! It can't get any better than that.
Loving God and writing songs go together naturally for me. So when I heard about a feature film project (called Indescribable) happening this summer depicting the history of the writing of the hymn, The Love of God, I got excited!
I contacted Morning Star Productions and sent in an crew application as well as an audition for a role. I haven't heard back about a part yet, but they did call and ask me to serve on the crew as the 2nd Assistant Director. The catch: now I didn't know if my schedule even allowed for it. I already had a speaking engagement at a film workshop on June 25th, and the film shoot was going to be starting on the 20th. So I prayed and gave it over to God.
Just a few weeks later, I was informed that due to equipment availability, the beginning of production was being delayed until the 28th! Just last week I confirmed with the director, Stacie Graber, that I would indeed be able to join the production team. I actually met her last fall here in VA when we worked together on a feature film called Alone Yet Not Alone.
This will be a huge learning curve for me, but also an excellent opportunity to help teach others what I do know, as there will be many young people helping on the crew who are new to the film scene. I would appreciate your prayers on several fronts:
1. Travel logistics. The shooting location is in southern Texas, so I'll probably be flying. Please pray for good prices, a smooth trip, and wisdom when I'm packing.
2. Job research. Understanding what my position will entail, and preparing to do that effectively.
3. Overall health and stamina. That my rest both leading up to and during that time would be sufficient and of good quality, so that my energy levels are high. Also that my eyesight holds up well to the amount of "screen time" necessary.
4. Priorities. That my other responsibilities would not overwhelm me so much that I wouldn't have time and energy to prepare for this. And vice-versa....
5. Relationships. That I would be able to work really well with the rest of the team, and be a blessing there.
To learn more about the film project, visit Indescribable! There is also a teaser trailer for it on the website.
Here is the third verse from the hymn:
Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made
Were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade
To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry
Nor could the scroll contain the whole though spread from sky to sky
What exquisite imagery! As indescribable as God's love is, it sure is a joy to try more and more ways of putting words to it. It's beyond anything we could even hope to fully comprehend, yet the adventure of diving into its depths is not to be missed.