It’s been a grueling few days, but I have cast the leading roles for “Zombies Take The Schoolyard.” I saw 90 teenagers and young men over the last three days. Although many of the older-playing-younger actors did a fantastic job, I decided to cast Branden Goodman (19) as RALPH and Jordan
Frank (14) as SCOTT. These guys don’t act like teenagers—they are teenagers. Both Branden and Jordan have lots of theatrical experience— and since this story all takes place in one room, it’s a lot like a play that needs non-subtle energy from the actors to keep things moving. The talent, experience and chemistry all added up where I know we can create something fun that still makes an impact. Congratulations to both Branden and Jordan for their hard work, and thanks to all the other guys who came in to read. This Just In: Jordan’s uncle Michael Frank is directing a feature-length zombie film– check it out here.
Auditions for “Zombie Takes The Schoolyard” are going extremely well. I have met some fantastic actors yesterday and today, all motivated to advance their careers and make new connections. It’s great how many of them are simultaneously working on writing and directing their own stories–that can only make them stronger actors, right? I know this process has certainly made me a better writer. I really admire these actors and I’m hoping this experience provides everyone with opportunities. I’ve also learned a lot about the importance of energy and passion (and thoughtfulness) in deciding to work with an actor to fulfill a role. Showing up or at least calling if you can’t make the audition goes a long way with me. In turn, it’s my responsibility to keep these guys in the loop, not to leave them hanging. I’ve seen a lot of emotion spilled onto the camera over the last days. It is incredibly hard to do that on cue, especially with me sitting across the room. It’s my job to be encouraging, supportive and yet completely on the level so that when I say something, they can count on it. It’s cool, a little scary but I’m up to the challenge. I’m making friends now that I hope to be working on “Zombies” and many projects to come. But for now, I have 25 more actors to see before the end of the day.
Wow. I have new, profound respect for casting directors. I’m doing the casting myself for “Zombies Take The Schoolyard”, with the help of Breakdown Express. I loved the online database, communication, sorting and printing functions of the online service, but the scheduling function was too arbitrary for me. See, I’m casting two main roles, a 17-year-old senior and a 14-year-old freshman, and I want to audition the two roles together. But I need to hand-pick the groups based on current height and body type so it kinda fits, where the senior is generally larger than the freshman in each group, regardless of which role the actor originally went for. I’ve already gotten complaints from actors who thought they should try out for “Ralph” regardless of whether I wanted them to read for “Scott” or not. Listen. If you can act with sincerity— funny and confident one second, poignant and vulnerable the next— I’m gonna see you as the role and make everything else fit. Names, ages, sizes, genders can all change within a script if the actor is right, and has the ability to make people want to watch him or her for a few minutes on a screen. So if you’re 6-ft 2 and a director wants you to read for a 14-year-old, be the best 14-year-old your skills let you be. If you’re driven and talented, we’ll put you in the right roles and even build something all-new around you— it happens all the time. Just… try it. Anyway, I’m cramming 60 auditions into 2 full days and I can’t wait to see each and every one of them. Stay tooned! PS: I’ll be throwing more giveaways up over the next few days because it’s so damn fun.
You know what feels cool? When you can finally post a breakdown looking for actors that will make your vision a reality. I’ve been using www.breakdownexpress.com, which has a variety of options for services both free and paid. According to their website, “Breakdown Services, Ltd. is the communications network and casting system that provides the most professional means to reach talent agents as well as actors when casting a project.” Sounds good to me. Susie Wilson over there has been a terrific help in getting the breakdown for Zombies up. Here’s a link to their services page–the website is clean and well-organized, too.
Here is the breakdown on the two characters I’m seeking to cast now for “Zombies Take The Schoolyard”. If you know any SAG actors who might be interested in auditioning, please have them go to Breakdown Express (thru Actors Access) to apply. Please note this production is in West L.A. and will be filmed Friday and Saturday April 2-3, 2010.