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Monday, May 2, 2011

Cultivating a World-Class Talent Pool 1000 Miles from Hollywood

by admin

Thanks once again to Bonnie Gillespie for featuring Portland in her column The Actors Voice – POV for Showfax.com.

Cultivating a World-Class Talent Pool 1000 Miles from Hollywood
Lana Veenker’s POV: Portland Casting
The Actors’ Voice – POV
May 1, 2011

This fantastic contribution from Portland casting director Lana Veenker is not one meant to warm the hearts of Los Angeles-based actors, hoping production is headed back to Hollywood. It’s a column about how local talent has stepped up its collective game to attract–and retain–major productions in the past few years. “Come for the tax breaks; stay for the talent,” could be the new minor-market motto, you might say.

Cultivating a World-Class Talent Pool 1000 Miles from Hollywood

In November 2008, I found myself in the Los Angeles offices of Electric Entertainment, meeting with the executive producers of TNT’s Leverage. They were considering moving their entire production to Oregon, but they had one big concern:

Was the local talent pool deep enough to fill the needs of their show, episode after episode, season after season?

Sure, my Portland-based company had provided casting on some big movies (including Twilight, Extraordinary Measures, and Feast of Love, to name a few) and some smaller ones (such as Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park), but it had been at least 15 years since a television series had set foot in the state.

Film and television production had just begun hitting its stride in Oregon when British Columbia implemented its film incentive program in the 1990s. This move–combined with a favorable exchange rate on the Canadian dollar–all but killed the momentum in the Northwest. Hollywood began to look past the forests, mountains, and lakes of Oregon, to the forests, mountains, and lakes of Vancouver BC and surrounding areas.

Many Northwest actors and crew who had been earning a decent living in their hometowns were suddenly faced with the decision to either uproot their families and move to Los Angeles (where there was still work to be found), or leave the industry altogether.

The creation of film tax incentives in Oregon in 2003–along with a more equitable exchange rate–has brought many of the jobs back to the Northwest, and we’ve been rebuilding our industry ever since. So when executive producer Dean Devlin threw down the gauntlet that November afternoon, I told him (a tad boldly, in retrospect): “Absolutely. We have enough actors to cast that for you in Oregon. No problem.”

Based in part on that assertion, Leverage announced a few months later that it was coming to Oregon.

Panic set in.

I knew what this meant to our film office, to the hundreds of crewmembers counting on these jobs, to Northwest actors searching for a reason to stay here, and to my own bottom line. I understood the financial commitment that Electric Entertainment was making–and the damage my career would sustain–if I failed to live up to my word.

I thought we had a strong enough base of actors to meet the demands of the show, but I had no idea whether or not our talent pool would truly meet their expectations, nor for how long.

My office organized a “town hall” meeting, which was attended by hundreds of Northwest actors. This time, it was my turn to throw down the gauntlet. An entire production company was moving its TV show to Portland, partly on my word. To prepare for it, I told actors, we were expanding our offices and staff, and upgrading to a new online casting system.

Now, I needed them to deliver the goods.

We challenged our talent pool to do everything in their power to up their game, whether that meant getting new headshots, assembling more professional demo reels, improving their online presence (website, IMDb, etc.), or recommitting themselves to ongoing training. I knew we had a number of actors who could compete in any market, but I was concerned that we might use them all up in our first season. I needed the next generation to step up and meet the challenge. And man, have they done so!

I can’t keep up with the number of weekly industry nights, script readings, and screening events going on in Portland, much less the countless independent films and webseries shooting around town. Our top acting coaches’ classes are filled to capacity, workshops are selling out, and it seems like every actor I encounter is in a show, penning a script, producing a short film or feature, volunteering as a reader in casting sessions, or simply focused wholeheartedly on training.

Talent agency rosters are filling out with new actors we never knew about before, and highly professional on-camera talent are hoofing it from as far away as Bend, Eugene, Ashland, and Medford to attend our casting sessions in Portland, never complaining about the commute. In my 11 years of casting in Oregon, I’ve never seen actors this motivated. And their determination is paying off.

Homegrown filmmaker James Westby–whose film Rid of Me features a cast made up almost entirely of Northwest actors–has captured the attention of the prestigious TriBeCa Film Festival (his previous made-in-Oregon feature, The Auteur, was hailed by TriBeCa organizers as “the funniest film in the festival”).

We are now in our third season of casting on Leverage, with over 38 episodes under our belts. Its producers and directors are still as thrilled as they were their first year in town, when they realized that–although they had budgeted to fly up four or five actors per episode from LA–the average (not including name actors hired to satisfy the network) was closer to one per episode. At times, none are flown in at all, local actors having snagged all the guest star and co-star roles themselves.

Since then, other pilots, films, and series have hit the Oregon Trail:

    • Meek’s Cutoff starring Michelle Williams, Restless by Gus Van Sant, and Extraordinary Measures starring Harrison Ford, all filmed in Oregon in 2009.

 

  • The IFC series Portlandia (starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein) shot six episodes in Portland last year, and just got picked up for another ten.

 

 

  • TNT has increased its order for Leverage from 15 episodes in season two, to 16 in season three, to 18 this year.

 

 

  • NBC chose Oregon for its made-for-TV-movie A Walk in My Shoes in 2010, while Brain Trust (the TBS pilot we cast in December) may go to series this fall.

 

 

  • 2011 is projected to be the busiest year for film and video production in the state’s history. So far this year, in addition to the first few episodes of Leverage season four, we have cast Grimm for NBC (the highly anticipated pilot by the producers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel), and Gone, a Lakeshore Entertainment thriller starring Amanda Seyfried.

 

If Leverage and Portlandia continue to be successful, and Grimm and Brain Trust both get picked up, we will have four television series shooting concurrently in and around Portland.

I’ve heard the rumblings of more Hollywood films joining this wagon train in months to come, and local actors continue to lend their talents to dozens of indie projects, plays, commercials, industrials, infomercials, and voiceover gigs. In fact, more and more Northwest actors are now piecing together a fulltime living from their acting endeavors. This would have been almost unheard of just a few years back.

There’s never been a better time to be an actor in Oregon, and our actors have never impressed me as much as they have of late. Sean Hayes–one of the producers of Grimm–raved about the quality of our talent base after we had completed casting on the pilot. Gone producer André Lamal and director Heitor Dhalia did the same after our first round of callbacks. Leverage directors keep asking, “Where are you finding these people?!? How come we haven’t run out yet?”

Is there an endless pool of actors in the Northwest? Of course not. Are there categories in which I wish we had more options? Umm, yes. (Hint: if you’re a strong, non-Caucasian actor of any type–especially over 30–or a strong actor who fits the thug/bad guy or cop/security guard type, now might be a good time to hitch up your wagon and head west… or north, as the case may be). But what our actors, coaches, acting schools, independent producers, and directors have managed to accomplish over the past few years has been nothing short of remarkable:

They have created an environment that supports and cultivates a world-class talent pool a thousand miles from Los Angeles, and three thousand miles from New York City.

As long as we keep endeavoring to raise the bar professionally–each generation of artists helping to groom and inspire the next–the momentum will continue and the pool will be replenished. In fact, I’ve already made it a habit to tell producers: “Give us a shot at the lead roles. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”

—–

Kudos to you, Lana, and to all the local talent keeping so many major productions so well cast and well acted! Let’s hope all actors with the opportunity to work under local hire status in other markets see this as a great time to take advantage of all the great stuff going on. Congratulations, Portland, on getting better and better! Very exciting!

About Lana Veenker

Lana Veenker began her career in London as a casting assistant on international co-productions for major studios and networks. When the Portland native returned to her roots in 1999, she launched what is now the Northwest’s most successful casting company, helping to raise the bar on what producers can expect from a regional talent pool. She is a member of the Casting Society of America and the International Casting Directors Network.

 

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Two Van Sant films turn up on Hollywood Reporter Top-10 Lists

by admin

The Hollywood Reporter film critics’ top-10 lists are in and two of Portland’s own Gus Van Sant‘s films make the cut:

Milk,” the biopic starring Sean Penn, and “Paranoid Park,” which we cast!

Congrats to all involved.

Film critics’ top 10 lists all over the map
‘Slumdog Millionaire,’ ‘Milk’ among THR favorites
By Kirk Honeycutt
Dec 28, 2008

When it comes to crafting our annual Top 10 Films lists, The Hollywood Reporter’s movie critics have a time-honored tradition of casting a large and wide net, and 2008 is no exception. The picks here display an ample range of films, so much so that no single film appears on all six lists. Every list contains at least one film not found on any other list. And each critic has a different best film.

The “winning” film, appearing on five of six lists, is “Slumdog Millionaire,” Danny Boyle’s Mumbai medley of magic realism and breathtaking romanticism, which is shaping up as one of the most lionized films of 2008.

Three other films occur on four lists. These are Christopher Nolan’s marvelous crime melodrama “The Dark Knight,” Gus Van Sant’s political biopic “Milk” and James Marsh’s documentary “Man on Wire.”

After that, it’s wonderfully wild, ranging from that head-scratcher (for some of us at least) “Synecdoche, New York” to the oldsters-as-songsters doc “Young@Heart.” Gus Van Sant’s other 2008 release, “Paranoid Park,” turns up on one list. Such little-seen films as Fatih Akin’s German-Turkish drama “The Edge of Heaven” and Werner Herzog’s documented travels to Antarctica, “Encounters at the End of the World,” make appearances.

Link to full article.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Oregonian Celebrates Creativity

by admin

The Ultimate Northwest magazine included in this Sunday’s paper featured a story on Oregon creatives. Lana’s excited to have her interview alongside David Walker’s:

The People Issue: Celebrating Creativity
Meet 25 of Portland’s most creative thinkers
Ultimate Northwest
Special Section to the Oregonian
October 26, 2008


FILMING FRENZY

LANA VEENKER
CASTING DIRECTOR

Seeing stars: After third-generation Oregonian Lana Veenker spent about a decade working and studying in Europe, she returned to Portland in 1999. She’d gained experience working for a casting agency in London and thought, after a brief pit stop in her hometown, she’d move to a bigger city. But then one thing led to another, and a temporary stay grew permanent. Mere months after landing back in Portland, Veenker, 41, was getting casting jobs. She started her own company with, as she recalls, “a laptop and a cell phone.” Now, her agency has helped cast such movies as “Paranoid Park,” The Road,” “Feast of Love” and “Management.”

All in a day’s work: As a casting director, Veenker and her staff work on a range of projects. For independently made features by Portland-based directors like James Westby, Veenker helped cast primary roles in his festival favorite, “The Auteur.” For Hollywood flicks, Veenker generally casts “day players” — people who come in for supporting roles and have a couple of speaking lines. But the company has been asked to look for lead actors: Gabe Nevins, star of “Paranoid Park,” responded to an open casting call.

Portland as film town: “I was at the Berlin film festival in February,” Veenker says. “People said, ‘You’re a casting director in Portland? Does anything shoot there?’ So I said, ‘Well, I’ve worked with Gus Van Sant and Jennifer Aniston and Viggo Mortensen’…. By the end of the festival, those people were saying Portland’s the next Toronto.”

Link to full article.


 

 

 

 

 

Monday, March 17, 2008

15 Minutes on the IMDb Homepage

by admin

We already thought it was pretty cool to be quoted in an article this month for Wired magazine on using MySpace as a casting tool:

Filmmakers Find Fresh Talent on MySpace
By Hugh Hart
03.14.08 | 12:00 AM

He’s worked with Matt Damon, Sean Penn, Nicole Kidman and Keanu Reeves, but director Gus Van Sant had no interest in casting movie stars for his skateboard drama Paranoid Park. He wanted real kids. So in July 2006, Van Sant created a MySpace page for Paranoid Park and posted a casting call for “skaters, honor roll [students], cheerleaders, punks, drama kids, musicians, artists, student council [members], athletes, award winners, class skippers, photographers, band members, leaders, followers, shy kids, class clowns.”

“We were just trying to figure out the best way to get the word out to nonprofessional people to cast in the film,” Van Sant says. “Now that MySpace is so prevalent, I think this is how all casting agencies should go about casting high schoolers.”

Most of the actors in Paranoid Park are real-life skaters with no previous acting experience.

It worked. A whopping 2,971 Portland-area teenagers turned up for cattle-call auditions. Among them: the film’s star, Gabe Nevins.

Van Sant is one of an increasing number of movie makers to use the internet as a casting tool. Fans of tweener diva Miley Cyrus can find out how to try out for her new movie on the Hannah Montana casting information blog. About 2,000 Real World fans submitted clips to MTV’s online casting site to try out for the 20th season of the reality-based soap opera. Fox Searchlight looked through online audition videos before selecting Bronx rapper Jamal Woolard to star in its Notorious B.I.G biopic. And British filmmaker Vito Rocco recruited several actors for his feature adventure Faintheart based on audition tapes submitted to the movie’s website.

“I actually never thought about being an actor, but just thought it would be fun to go mess around downtown,” says Nevins, now 16. “I was an average skateboarding teen before the movie and very innocent about the film industry, let alone acting. This made me relate to my character a lot because my character was an average skater like myself.”

Has the movie influenced his ideas about a future career? “I don’t have an agent yet but don’t know if I want one,” Nevins says. “I’m still an average kid in high school.”

Net-casting fresh faces for Paranoid Park made sense because Van Sant, Oscar-nominated for Good Will Hunting puts a premium on authenticity. The film’s casting director Lana Veenker explains, “Gus wanted to find a real skateboarder who hadn’t been ‘spoiled,’ because a lot of times the only thing kids learn in high school or junior high drama departments is how to mug and it looks fake.”

Trained actors with agents and head shots remain the rule rather than the exception in Hollywood, but when it comes to finding quirky unknowns, Casting Society of America board member Laura Adler says internet searches are fast becoming a go-to tool among her colleagues. She cites Christopher Mintz-Plasse, for example, who landed the role of “McLovin” in Superbad after casting agents spotted his clips on YouTube. “It’s a great tool for finding new faces,” she says. “Casting people use MySpace or FaceBook or Craigslist when they’re looking for an unknown young talent who’s odd or unique. You run the risk of getting bombarded by tons of people who aren’t right for the role but we get that anyway, on a daily basis.”

Among the projects offering to sift deluded wheat from the talented chaff are Farewell Mr. President on FunnyorDie.com, which showcases user-submitted audition video clips by wannabe actresses who think they can impersonate Marilyn Monroe.

Besides the come one/come all benefits of crowdsourced cattle calls, socially networked casting agents can now mollify the sting of rejection for actors who don’t make the cut. Veenker, who just finished net-casting the new teen vampire movie Twilight on her casting agency’s MySpace page, says, “The nice thing about social networking sites is that people who auditioned check back on the MySpace page constantly for updates. When we started casting Twilight our Friends list doubled overnight. So now, we just posted a little thing: ‘Thank you all for submitting, but the roles have been cast.’ This way, at least, everyone knows ‘Well, I tried.'”

The article somehow found its way into a direct link from the IMDb homepage as well, under its Hit List.

It may be gone by the time you go to check it out, but we thought that was rad!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Paranoid Park en France

by admin

Paranoid Park was released in France this week. Hopefully, we’ll see it soon in theatres on this side of the pond!

Alex, jeune skateur, tue accidentellement un agent de sécurité tout près du terrain de skate le plus malfamé de Portland, le Paranoid Park. Il décide de ne rien dire.

Festival de Cannes
Prix du 60e Anniversaire

I’m getting reports from Orléans (the French town I was an exchange student in many moons ago) that the poster is hanging outside the movie theatre I used to go to as a student. Way cool!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Feature Fest!

by admin

Hey gang,

Things are finally getting back to normal. I had a lot of catching up to do after more than five weeks out of town. The bookkeeper came by and sorted through several months worth of credit card and bank statements. I’ve been following up with clients, sending thank you notes, issuing invoices, researching employee benefits, buying new office furnishings and other fun admin stuff.

Business is also picking up: We’ve got a feature and several commercials going on, and word is that more projects are on the way. We just finished casting for skateboarders again, interestingly, since the cast and crew premiere of “Paranoid Park” took place last night. It was great to see the film away from the glitter and nerves of Cannes, surrounded by friends and colleagues.

A few other features we worked on over the past year are nearing completion and we can hardly wait! “Selfless” by the Pander Brothers is one of them and “The Auteur” by James Westby is another. These guys are so talented and we had a blast working with them!

The “Feast of Love” trailer is starting to be seen in cinemas. Word is that it will be released in October.

“Follow the Profit”, directed by Drew Rosenberg, has wrapped principal photography and is in post.

Now where are those three NEW feature scripts we’ve heard are coming down the pike? Fingers crossed that they don’t all land in our inbox on the same day! 😮

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Paranoid Park Takes Home Special Prize from Cannes

by admin

“Jury President Stephen Frears awarded a 60th Anniversary Prize to Gus Van Sant for Paranoid Park.”

“Gus Van Sant accepted this Anniversary Award and expressed his appreciation: ‘Thanks, Stephen, and thanks to the Jury and thanks to the family Karmitz for backing this film. It had very humble beginnings and for the short film as well. Thanks to my producers. Of course thanks to Gilles Jacob and Thierry Frémaux for this Festival; it’s been a really good one this year. Thanks to Chris Doyle and Rain Li for the cinematography and Blake Nelson for writing the original book that it’s from and all the others who helped make it. Thank you.'”

Congrats to Gus, Blake, cast and crew!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Festival de Cannes

by admin

Bonjour from the Riviera! I’m in Cannes along with about 30 others from production for the screening of the Gus Van Sant film “Paranoid Park,” which we cast last year and which is competing for the top prize: the Palme d’Or.

I’ll be sending updates to Oregonian film critic Shawn Levy’s Mad About Movies blog, if you’d like to keep abreast of the developments.

A plus tard!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

La Croisette nous attend….

by admin

I’ll let others do the talking:

E! Online
Cannes Courts Quentin, Coens, Brangelina
by Josh Grossberg
Thu, 19 Apr 2007

The world’s biggest film fest will launch next month with a lineup that includes films from Quentin Tarantino, David Fincher, the Coen brothers and Gus Van Sant facing off for the illustrious Palme d’Or. […]

Van Sant, a 2003 Palme d’Or winner for his Columbine-channeling Elephant, is back with Paranoid Park, a new teen drama about a skateboarder who accidentally kills a security guard.
Read the rest of the article


Variety
Cannes lines up American feast
‘Nights’ opens festival, ‘Death Proof’ restored
by Alison James
Apr. 19, 2007

PARIS — The Stars and Stripes will be flying high over the Croisette when the Cannes Film Festival’s 60th anniversary edition unspools May 16-27.

High-profile U.S. helmers and stars – even some dead ones – are so prevalent, it would almost be easier to list those that won’t be there.

In a lineup of 21 competition titles, unveiled with the rest of the Official Selection in Paris on Thursday, there are no fewer than five American films: Joel and Ethan Coen’s “No Country for Old Men”; David Fincher’s “Zodiac”; James Gray’s “We Own the Night”; Quentin Tarantino’s “Death Proof,” in a version of his “Grindhouse” contribution with an extra 10-15 minutes of footage; and Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park.”

The Coen brothers, Tarantino and Van Sant are all previous Palme d’Or winners, while Fincher will be making his Cannes debut.
Read the rest of the article



The Hollywood Reporter

‘Blueberry Nights’ Opens Festival de Cannes
Tarantino, Soderbergh among US entries
By Rebecca Leffler
April 20, 2007

PARIS — The Festival de Cannes will be ringing in its 60th anniversary with what promises to be a star-studded, U.S.-heavy official lineup as organizers announced the schedule Thursday. […] Returning to Cannes are previous Palme d’Or winners the Coen brothers with “No Country for Old Men” and Gus Van Sant with “Paranoid Park.”

[…]

A complete list of today’s lineup announcement follows.

Opening night:
“My Blueberry Nights,” Wong Kar Wai, Hong Kong

In Competition:
“An Old Mistress” (Une Vieille Maitresse), Catherine Breillat, France
“The Love Songs” (Les Chansons d’amour), Christophe Honore, France
“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” Julian Schnabel, France
“Auf Der Anderen Seite Des Lebens,” Fatih Akin, Turkey
“Breath,” Kim Ki-duk, South Korea
“No Country for Old Men,” Joel and Ethan Coen, U.S.
“Zodiac,” David Fincher, U.S.
“We Own the Night,” James Gray, U.S.
“Mogari No Mori,” Naomi Kawase, Japan
“Promise Me This,” Emir Kusturica, Serbia
“Secret Sunshine,” Lee Chang-Dong, South Korea
“4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days,” Cristian Mungiu, Romania
“Tehilim,” Raphael Nadjari, France
“Silent Light,” Carlos Reygadas, Mexico
“Persepolis,” Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, France
“Import/Export,” Ulrich Seid, Austria
“Alexandra,” Alexander Sokourov, Russia
“Death Proof,” Quentin Tarantino, U.S.
“The Man From London,” Bela Tarr, Hungary
Paranoid Park,” Gus Van Sant, U.S.
“The Banishment,” Andrey Zvyagintsev, Russia

Out of Competition:
“Sicko,” Michael Moore, U.S.
“Ocean’s Thirteen,” Steven Soderbergh, U.S.
“A Mighty Heart,” Michael Winterbottom, U.K.

Closing night:
“The Age of Darkness,” Denys Arcand, Canada

Un Certain Regard:
“Calle Santa Fe,” Carmen Castillo, Chile
“Munyurangabo,” Lee Isaac Chung, U.S.
“Night Train,” Yinan Diao, China
“El Bano Del Papa,” Enrique Fernandez and Cesar Charlone, Uruguay
“Bikur Hatizmoret,” Eran Kolirin, Israel
“Mister Lonely,” Harmony Korine, U.S.
“Magnus,” Kadri Kousaar, Estonia
“Mang Shan,” Yang Li, China
“Mio Fratello e Figlio Unico,” Daniele Luchetti, Italy
“California Dreamin’ ” (Nesfarsit), Crisitan Nemescu, Romania
“La Soledad,” Jaime Rosales, Spain
“Am Ende Kommen Touristen,” Robert Thalheim, Germany
“Kuaile Gongchang,” Ekachai Uekrongtham, Singapore
“Le Reve De La Nuit D’Avant,” Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, France
“Et Toi, T’Es Sur Qui?” Lola Doillon, France
“L’Avocat De La Terreur,” Barbet Schroeder, France
“Les Pieuvres,” Celine Sciamma, France

Short films:
“Resistance Aux Tremblements,” Olivier Hems, France
“Run,” Mark Albiston, New Zealand
“The Oate’s Valor,” Tim Thaddeus Cahill, U.S.
“The Last 15,” Antonio Campos, U.S.
“Grandma,” Anthony Chen, Singapore
“Ark,” Grzegorz Jonkajtys, Poland
“Ver Llover,” Elisa Miller, Mexico
“The Name of the Sparrow,” Kyros Papavassiliou, Cyprus
“Looking Glass,” Erik Rosenlund, Sweden
“My Sister,” Marco Van Geffen, Netherlands
“My Dear Rosetta,” Hae-hoon Yang, South Korea

Midnight Screenings, Out of Competition:
“Go Go Tales,” Abel Ferrara, U.S.
“U2 3D,” Catherine Owens and Mark Pellington, U.S.
“Boarding Gate,” Olivier Assayas, France

Special Screenings, Out of Competition:
“11th Hour,” Leila Conners Petersen and Nadia Conners, U.S.
“The War,” Lynn Novick and Ken Burns, U.S.
“He Fengming,” Bing Wang, China
“Retour En Normandie,” Nicolas Philibert, France
Read the rest of the article


Congrats to Gus, Blake, the producers, actors and crew!

XOXOXOXO

Guess I should start shopping for something to wear! 😮

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Slate Please!

by admin

Greetings!

Just a quick fly-by here. The wrap party for “Paranoid Park” was last weekend; it was really fun to see all the kids and meet their parents, reconnect with the crew, and celebrate our hard work. Can’t wait to see how the film turns out! Sounds like the shoot went exceptionally well, so everyone’s excited to see the results.

We’re starting on a new feature film for Lakeshore Entertainment, “Untraceable”” starring Diane Lane. Have got several other independent films underway and the usual slew of commercial clients. It’s a conveyer belt!

I shot down to LA last week to do some casting down there and got to drop in on a few casting directors I know and catch up with friends. Had to cut my trip short, though, when I heard the wrap party was moved to Saturday: After 14 weeks on Paranoid Park, I wasn’t going to miss that, so I flew back early to attend!

Oh, and we’ve finally entered the digital age and got our new website up and running. It’s mainly geared towards clients, but kinda fun to check out. I hope I don’t get an onslaught of emails from actors in Romania and Venezuela, wanting us to cast them in our next Lottery commercial….it doesn’t really work like that, guys! If you’re not local, it’s not likely we can use you. 😉

Off to work!

Later,

Lana

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Paranoid Park Update

by admin

For those who have been eager for news on “Paranoid Park”:

26 of the roles have been booked.

A few remaining principal roles are currently in contract negotiations.

Background roles may still be available (although not through my office, so don’t write to me; I can’t help you! Sorry!).

Congrats to the cast and break a leg (but not really…it’s hard to skate on crutches!)

Lana

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Rock the Djembe!

by admin

I suppose it’s time for a long overdue update.

Where did I leave off? Oh yeah, “Paranoid Park.”

🙂

We’re getting closer to having a cast. No one has been booked yet, but a few favorites are starting to rise to the surface. We’ll see how it pans out.

Since then, we’ve also worked on a Nike job for Wieden + Kennedy, tied up a few loose ends on “Feast of Love,” cast a print job for Saturn Outlook, several infomercials, a few hospital spots, a home gym show and a video game commercial. Also have a handful of screenplays on my desk that I keep trying to get to. Ack.

More importantly, though, I held a fundraiser for Run for Congo Women and did my first trail run for a cause (a whopping 5.5 miles, but hey, it was HILLY and I hadn’t had time to train!). I think I raised a lot of money for the cause (thanks to all the theatre and film industry folks who sponsored me and to Toby Christensen who provided incredible healing djembe music at the shindig–you’re all so amazing!), but I still have to sit down and figure out the numbers.

The run itself was a very emotional experience, knowing that each mile I ran, several families were going to be affected. As Run for Congo Women founder Lisa Shannon put it, it was like carrying some of the burden for the people of war-torn DRC.

Next up on the philanthropic calendar will probably be some get-out-the-vote efforts. It’s almost that time, people! Your voice matters!

Ciao for now,

Lana

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Last Gus Van Sant Casting Call for Skaters & Teens

by admin

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Last Chance for Regional Skateboarders and Teens to try out for Gus Van Sant’s “Paranoid Park” on August 15

Filmmaker Hopes to Find Fresh Talent for Lead and Supporting Roles in New Independent Film

Portland, Ore. – August 15, 2006 – Today, the final open casting call for filmmaker Gus Van Sant’s upcoming independent film “Paranoid Park” will take place from 2 p.m. – 7 p.m. at the Ambridge Event Center (300 NE Multnomah St, Portland, Ore., 97232), announced Portland’s Lana Veenker Casting.

According to casting director Lana Veenker, the locally-based filmmaker is on the lookout for fresh talent for the film’s lead and supporting roles. “None of the roles have been filled as of yet,” says Veenker. “Any kid walking in off the street has a shot at getting cast.”

“Paranoid Park,” based on the novel by Blake Nelson, is the story of a teenage skateboarder who accidentally kills a security guard and has to figure out what to do when police start to investigate.

The August 15 casting call is open to skateboarders age 14-30 and students age 14-18 to fill nearly twenty roles for both males and females. Filming is set to begin in October of 2006 in Portland.

For up-to-the-minute information, interested parties may call the Paranoid Park Hotline at 503.222.2462 or visit http://www.myspace.com/ParanoidPark.

###

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Casting Teens for Gus!

by admin

At long last, I’m poking my head back in here. Clearly, blogging is not my medium. 😐 Mea culpa.

I’ll quickly summarize the whirlwind of the past few months, so I can update you on the latest news:

May 2006:

We were hired to do the Oregon and Washington casting on a Morgan Freeman movie for Lakeshore Entertainment, called “Feast of Love,” based on the Charles Baxter novel. Actually, we’re still working on it. It’s been great working with the producers, crew and the very lovely Robert Benton who is directing. Just one last session this weekend and we should be about done.

June 2006:

Besides the regular commercial biz coming in, we did a major spot for Nike, requiring 150 talent for a night shoot at a shopping mall. Oy! I won’t even go into the craziness of that gig; I’ll just say that I bow to the producer for pulling it off with such class. If WE thought it was insanity, I can’t even imagine what HIS job was like.

We also managed to cast a few indie shorts, a music video, a couple TV pilots and some educational stuff, but the big fun came working on James Westby’s new feature “The Auteur” (based on his short by the same title). Hilarious script. I can’t wait to see how it turns out!! And I think I can pretty safely say that, after working on that film, I’m probably the only person on the planet who has been embraced by Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama…and porn star Ron Jeremy(!). But those stories are for another day.

July 2006:

We actually got FOUR whole days off on the 4th of July holiday, so that was amazing and fun. We picked up on “Feast of Love” again when we got back, finished up bookings on “The Auteur” and scrambled through several more commercial gigs, before getting a call from Gus Van Sant’s producer about casting his new film, “Paranoid Park,” based on the Blake Nelson novel.

I don’t have a lot of time to go into it now, because we’re heading into MAJOR cattle calls on August 3rd and 5th to find teens for the film, but anyone interested can check out the MySpace page we’ve set up:


www.myspace.com/ParanoidPark

We need 14-18 year olds of all types, plus we’re going to need skateboarders 14-30 at our next cattle call on August 15th. Check it out and tell everyone you know!

Later!