Friday, 16 July 2010

Casting Announcement

And so here it is: I am very very excited to announce the actors that we have cast in the six lead roles of Life Just Is! Seeing them breathe life into the characters that I started creating so long ago has been a great experience for me, and I look forward to being able to share it with you once the film is finished. I can't wait to start working with Jayne, Jenna, Paul, Nathaniel, Jamie and Joel to develop their characters and create something special for the screen. More soon.
- Alex

Please click on photos to see biographies (will open in a new window)

Jayne Wisener

Jenna-Louise Coleman
Paul Nicholls

Nathaniel Martello-White
Jamie Di Spirito

Joel Dommett

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Casting: A Journey

On August 27th last year we announced that Casting Director Jane Frisby had joined our team, and that we hoped to begin casting the film in the following months. We even opened a call for CVs and headshots through our mailing list. It was early days for the casting process and we knew that it would take some time, but back then we didn't know just how much time it would take!

Around October, shortly after Tom came on board the project as producer, we took the first steps towards casting, but we then decided to concentrate on developing the script and other aspects of the project, delaying the casting until we knew we were ready for that stage of the process.

This took us up to March 2010, six months after our initial announcement. But Jane was busy working on The Fighter's Ballad, her first foray into the world of feature film producing. Although at this time we could have progressed without Jane, we didn't want to do that. Tom and I were looking forward to working with Jane and we knew that her experience and expertise would prove invaluable to the project. So we waited. Then, finally, in early May we were ready to begin the process in earnest. We had a long list of applicants from our initial casting calls, so now it was a case of doing some shortlisting. This in itself was no easy process due to the overwhelming number of CVs to consider, but decisions were made and the script was sent out. Based on previous experience, we decided that we would shortlist twice as many actors as we were hoping to see - a 50% drop off was inevitable, we thought. Some people won't be available, some won't like the script, some won't be willing to work at a microbudget level. That's just the way it goes. We set our dates: 10th and 11th June for auditions, 15th June for callbacks. In other words, the casting would be done between my trips to the Hamburg International Short Film Festival and the Edinburgh International Film Festival and July would be nice and peaceful. If only.

What happened was this: the response to the script was phenomenal. Far greater than we had planned. Agents kept suggesting new people, our drop off rate was negligible, and suddenly we had almost twice as many people wanting to be seen as we had planned to see. So the 15th became a nonstop day of additional auditions (literally – from 9.30 till 6.30 with no breaks!), and callbacks were moved to the 30th.

With hindsight, trying to do the callbacks only four days after our initial auditions would have been overambitious. Even with a trip to EIFF in the middle, the two week turnaround was more sensible, allowing us to think things through, to plan and to organise ourselves and the actors (we were seeing the actors in groups of six, the number of parts we were casting, and this did take some organisation). The callback day went brilliantly, but there were a few people whose initial auditions we'd loved who couldn't make it along. So suddenly an extra callback day was added: Tuesday 6th July. The process was becoming protracted. But we had to get it right. I was spending days poring over the tapes and nights dreaming of various combinations of actors. My consciousness was submerged.

By the time the 6th came and went, certain things had become clear. Seeing the actors together had made us realise particular things about the group dynamics that we'd perhaps lost sight of in the initial audition phase. We soon reached decisions about three of the six parts, but we decided that before filling the other roles we needed to see how certain people worked with each other. So a final callback day was arranged, with a very select group of actors.

After six casting days, and many hours spent looking at audition tapes, our decisions finally became clear. It was like a weight was lifted; everything clicked into place. We were ready to make our offers...

And so, with that, the six main parts of the film are cast. Once we've picked up the pieces and caught our breath we'll be starting the process again, searching to find people for the remaining, secondary parts. But for now we can breathe.

We will be making an official announcement about our leads in the next few days, so please check back soon for details. Needless to say, I am extremely excited about the actors that I will be working with on the project, and I can't wait to move further into production on the film.

Before finishing this post I would also like to say a big, public thank you to all of the actors who came in to audition. We were constantly amazed by the high quality of the performances we saw and I genuinely hope to work with many of them in the future.

- Alex