Going through casting session videos - freaking out a bit

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  • Going through casting session videos - freaking out a bit

    I'd especially like some input from those who've gone through the process.

    The director and I spent the afternoon yesterday going through the initial clips sent through by the agency.

    None of them were really right for the parts - too young, too old, too this, too that, and their skill levels were highly variable. They weren't hitting the mark - they were playing the scenes too dramatically, way overcooking the emotions.

    My biggest concern, though, was that the dialogue sounded bad and stilted. I was thinking "dammit - is the problem ME and not them?"

    For those who have done this - is it too dangerous to judge based on the artificial, static, unrehearsed, not-quite-right and sometimes unskilled casting session material? I remember listening to a fly-on-the-wall radio documentary of a theatre company rehearsing Macbeth, and some of the lines sounded terrible. I don't like to cling to that as a hope, but it's an example of good material coming out badly.

    Thanks in advance to anyone who has some insight.

  • #2
    Re: Going through casting session videos - freaking out a bit

    Many of my films starred athletes who could not act - so the key was to write "actor proof dialogue" they couldn't screw up.

    Also, on my stuff it was all about the names that sold the film, so there really wasn't any "too young and too old" - the role had to fit whatever star they cast.

    I suspect part of the casting things for you may be that you have lived with an image of the character in your imagination... and it isn't any of these people. There will always be a difference between the movie that plays in your head, and the one that will play on the big screen. It will never be as good... even if things don't go horribly wrong when they make it.

    I wouldn't worry. If there is a problem with the dialogue, the director or others will tell you about it. Then it's just problem solving.

    - Bill
    Free Script Tips:
    http://www.scriptsecrets.net

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    • #3
      Re: Going through casting session videos - freaking out a bit

      Pick me! pick me!

      a couple things - if you're not used to seeing video auditions, they can all be weird at first. NO one nails a video audition. you're just looking for a spark of something.

      and to be responsible, you have to look at the variables - the room, the casting directors, the breakdown you wrote, your communication with them.

      however - we've all had THIS experience. you suffer through days of auditions. you so can't stand the scene, its just not working. you hate it. no one is right. you know you have to rewrite the scene.... until... the right actor comes in and knocks it out of the ****ing park. its all of a sudden, the best scene ever.
      hope that happens soon. its when you get respect for actors like youve never had before. how can a scene suck for 100 of them, and be golden for one? that one is good.

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      • #4
        Re: Going through casting session videos - freaking out a bit

        Originally posted by wcmartell View Post

        I wouldn't worry. If there is a problem with the dialogue, the director or others will tell you about it. Then it's just problem solving.

        - Bill
        well, sometimes the director is focused on other **** and might miss it, or might be thinking to herself: I'll fix it on the day.

        Really think about whether or not it's just insecurity or the dissonance of their voice and the voice in your head. But after running it through those, if the dialog, in spots, feels wrong to you, you should probably simplify it (that's almost always what's needed, removing verbal flourishes that read great, but are difficult to sell).

        Holly is right, sometimes an actor will walk in and just nail it, making you forget that you were worried about the line (still worry and have alts ready for when you start shooting. Those lines often come back to bother someone).

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        • #5
          Re: Going through casting session videos - freaking out a bit

          Are these videos of them doing a script prepared by you .. for the purpose of evaluation?

          If so - are these bits monologues or rely on interaction? From my very limited experience, I'd suggest preparing a monologue straight to camera for that character to do .. solely for auditioning.

          For some reason it is easier for brains like mine to eliminate everything else if, well, everything else is already eliminated. I know it's probably a bad idea from a 'how do they interact, hit their mark etc' point of view .. but I found it useful for a first stage.

          See the 'Easy A' webcam audition tape to see how well that can work. (OK - they used that conceit in the film too .. but it's a great example of how well she nailed that character.)

          Good luck,

          Mac
          New blogposts:
          *Followup - Seeking Investors in all the wrong places
          *Preselling your film - Learning from the Experts
          *Getting your indie film onto iTunes
          *Case Study - Estimating Film profits

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          • #6
            Re: Going through casting session videos - freaking out a bit

            Also, like writing, acting is hard. I've cast parts and had fifty pro, experienced actors not come close until someone nailed it.

            Also, I would not try to actor proof your dialogue. And I would not assume that no one will make your words better than you imagined - keep casting until someone does.

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            • #7
              Re: Going through casting session videos - freaking out a bit

              Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post
              Also, like writing, acting is hard. I've cast parts and had fifty pro, experienced actors not come close until someone nailed it.
              And like writing, everyone "thinks" they can act. I'm horrible at acting but I read sides for my wife and she's so real it's scary. She also nails jobs so it's clear to me that she stands out. It's probably like a good script standing out in a pile of bad ones.

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              • #8
                Re: Going through casting session videos - freaking out a bit

                Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post
                Also, I would not try to actor proof your dialogue. And I would not assume that no one will make your words better than you imagined - keep casting until someone does.
                ^^This is how I learned I'd never be an actor. Cuz many times I've been nervous about something I had written, then saw an actor nail it in a way I hadn't even imagined... And I knew, even with something I had written myself I could never do what they had done with my words.

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                • #9
                  Re: Going through casting session videos - freaking out a bit

                  I agree with the general consensus here, but I will add: if your gut is telling you that something's wrong with the words, change the words. Don't change them because the acting is off.

                  Change them because the writing is off.

                  But making that determination is difficult. For now, I'd wait. If *everyone* just sounds ridiculous, make the change.

                  However, don't change the words to "actor proof", which is ridiculous. Your job isn't to write defensively.

                  Change the words to make the writing better.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Going through casting session videos - freaking out a bit

                    Originally posted by Mac H. View Post
                    Are these videos of them doing a script prepared by you .. for the purpose of evaluation?
                    Extracts from the script, chosen by the casting agent.

                    Thanks to all who replied - it's calmed me down a little.

                    The leads have already been cast, and they're good (although it makes me nervous that we won't have the luxury of a full table read - some of them are arriving at the last moment. I'm going to try to arrange a proxy of sorts.) The tricky thing is these vital support players. I'm working to the adage that you're only as good as your worst actor, and we need them to be up to scratch.

                    This movie business is hard! Dunno why I ever thought it'd be anything other, but sometimes you have to wade into something before you can fully sense it.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Going through casting session videos - freaking out a bit

                      We did a casting session with 40 actors for our recent short film and the readings were all over the place until we told them what we wanted. Then they were great. The only rewriting we did was minor stuff to suit the voice patterns and style of the actors we chose.

                      It's much harder for actors to make a clip without that guidance, but it will be fine when you see them in person and you are able to tell them what you want.
                      TimeStorm & Blurred Vision Book info & blog: https://stormingtime.com//

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                      • #12
                        Re: Going through casting session videos - freaking out a bit

                        I'm in the middle of casting the Bollywood movie I wrote and will direct. I don't know how you can audition from tapes? Tapes almost never look good.

                        I have them do a monologue then read sides. If they need "adjustments" I give it to them. I do this to see if they can take direction from me and for me to guide their performance to what I am looking for.

                        I don't know if in higher budgeted films the director is not involved with the minutia of casting and leaves it to the casting director, but in my low budget film I am heavily involved. I don't see how else you can get the actors you truly want.
                        Never let the competition know what you're thinking... and never tell the unseen masses your story idea.

                        -- Rule 85, Ferengi Rules of Acquisition (updated by cmmora)

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                        • #13
                          Re: Going through casting session videos - freaking out a bit

                          Originally posted by 60WordsPerHour View Post
                          Extracts from the script, chosen by the casting agent.

                          Thanks to all who replied - it's calmed me down a little.

                          The leads have already been cast, and they're good (although it makes me nervous that we won't have the luxury of a full table read - some of them are arriving at the last moment. I'm going to try to arrange a proxy of sorts.) The tricky thing is these vital support players. I'm working to the adage that you're only as good as your worst actor, and we need them to be up to scratch.

                          This movie business is hard! Dunno why I ever thought it'd be anything other, but sometimes you have to wade into something before you can fully sense it.
                          Wow! Amazing....

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Going through casting session videos - freaking out a bit

                            As a classically trained actor who has sat on both sides of the table, it's no different for an actor feeling their way through a scene, than it is a writer going through countless drafts of the exact same scene.

                            There are so many variables at play for an actor during an auction - have they only been given the sides - did they get a biog - what was the audition brief - did they get the whole script...

                            Back when I trained 40,000 people auditioned for 20 places. Some people who got through to the school weren't actually that good once we got into the nuts and bolts of craft but they had the knack when it came to auditioning.

                            Throw into that a bucket load of nerves and desire to NAIL it and behind that confident veneer is a fellow artist trying not to butcher your work. IMHO the performance of an actor comes out during the rehearsal process.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Going through casting session videos - freaking out a bit

                              As a classically trained actor who has sat on both sides of the table, it's no different for an actor feeling their way through a scene, than it is a writer going through countless drafts of the exact same scene.

                              There are so many variables at play for an actor during an audition - have they only been given the sides - did they get a biog - what was the audition brief - did they get the whole script...

                              Back when I trained 40,000 people auditioned for 20 places. Some people who got through to the school weren't actually that good once we got into the nuts and bolts of craft but they had the knack when it came to auditioning.

                              Throw into that a bucket load of nerves and desire to NAIL it and behind that confident veneer is a fellow artist trying not to butcher your work. IMHO the performance of an actor comes out during the rehearsal process.

                              Comment

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