Last week I had a meeting with a filmmaker about the development of First Signal. While he knows I watched his work, what immediately struck me was that he watched some of mine as well. Isn’t this what the process is all about? Learning about each other’s work before you work together?
When I’m in a pitch meeting with a possible producer, I might not watch all the movies they’ve produced, but you can be sure I’ve watched some. When I’m looking to cast an actor, I read their resume to see if we have any common background or talking points. Likewise, when I’m cast in a project I always look up the director. You never know where a conversation of mutual interests can take you.
I figured the meeting was going to go well, but you never really know until you have a face to face. The result of that meeting was a change in process on the production of First Signal. While a table read was nearly cast and scheduled, the decision was made to go straight to auditions in April with production in August.
The decision to forgo the table read really came down to a few things. First, there were some scheduling conflicts in early March, a preliminary working budget was largely agreed to and it appeared to be an extra step in the process that we just didn’t need. Naturally, once the actors have been cast the requisite rehearsals will take place prior to shooting. A formal casting notice will be posted on Backstage and New England Film in late March, but for now please visit this link for more information.
The process of making a feature film is an exciting one, but also a careful one. It all comes down to planning and execution. When I think of the days when I produced some major events (some out of the country), and what has gone into my film projects, I’m a firm believer in the importance of pre-production. A film is like a train. Once the train leaves the station it’s almost impossible to stop. Best to have everyone board at the station rather than trying to jump on while racing down the tracks.
While the submissions continue to come in for the next class at the Naval Justice School, this past week took an interesting turn when I was cast as a policeman in an upcoming TV pilot. What was originally one day turned into three days on this production.
I always find these large scale productions interesting for a variety of reasons. Am I learning something new? Did I have a good time? And did I meet interesting people? I would say the answer was yes on all counts.
For me I always look at these “large-scale” productions with two different hats on – as an actor and filmmaker. As an actor I had to learn pretty quickly how this director worked. He gave me direction once and then returned on a couple of occasions to rehearse it without any verbal cues. He would appear, I would do what he directed and then he would leave. It must have been OK because after one rehearsal and two takes it was done. I guess we will see if that moment makes it in the final cut.
As a filmmaker, what I appreciated was the level of detail on the built sets. The desk I was sitting at was complete with period files, notes, etc. Even the wording on the files was specific to the era. As we live in an age where movies and TV shows are constantly screenshot, the last thing you want is something on camera that shouldn’t be there.
But this week it’s back to my own projects. In addition to the handful of actors to cast in the Naval Justice School (NJS) project, I start meetings on First Signal. This will be my fifth class with NJS and it’s great to see so many actors return from previous classes.
After my first meeting this week on First Signal, my plan is to post for actors in regard to a table read. The goal is to have a read sometime in late February or early March. From there I move on to locations and then crew.
And just when I think I’ve heard every excuse in the acting book, today there was a new one. I scheduled an interview with an actor days ago this morning in regard to the next NJS class. I couldn’t believe when I received an email this morning asking to push the interview back because, “I’m just trying to run some errands before the football games today and wasn’t sure if we could push back to 11:30.” Obviously I declined to do so. To every aspiring actor out there read these next words carefully – an actor declined to keep a scheduled interview for a paid gig because of football.
Here in Massachusetts (and New England in general) there is an obsession on football that borders on near hysteria. It’s all well and good that you have your passions, but when they interfere with work you have a problem. When you ask a producer/director to reschedule an interview because of your passion for a sport, I have two words of advice – don’t submit.
Can you even imagine for a minute if the day after I committed to this pilot that I emailed the casting director and said, “I can’t work tomorrow because I need to watch XX” I don’t even want to know the note that would go in my file. But I do know what that casting director would do after crossing my name off all their lists.