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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, 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!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Filmmaking Gone Wild!

by admin

Film production has gone crazy in Oregon since the legislature passed some incentive programs to encourage producers to shoot here. In LA, they’re calling us the new Toronto, the new Vancouver, the new New Mexico, etc.

We started up on a new project almost immediately after my return from Berlin, met with the producer of a second film hoping to shoot this summer and are about to begin casting on a third one headed this way. This is in addition to a slew of commercial work, for clients like Nintendo, Microsoft, HP and others.

There are a handful of other features floating around out there, but we’re still waiting to hear which ones are for certain.

I guess that’s the one advantage to the collapse of the dollar. 😐 I have over a dozen screenplays on my desk right now. My European counterparts almost fainted at that! Production has been slow, slow, slow in Europe, as it’s much too dear for Hollywood these days.

This week, Paranoid Park opens in Portland at Cinema 21. Hope to see you all there! Be sure to catch “4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days” too, if you can. The Palme d’Or winning film stars the charming Anamaria Marinka, who is about to explode internationally.

Next on the agenda: A trip to the Big Apple.

Monday, March 17, 2008

2008 – A Film Fest Odyssey

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The odyssey continues….

Okay, so after the LA “Untraceable” premiere, I took off for the Berlin International Film Festival. I was one of about 35 casting directors participating in European Film Promotion’s “Shooting Stars” program, in which the top nine up-and-coming European actors are presented to the press and to casting directors from over a dozen countries during the Berlinale.

The Shooting Stars included:

Anamaria Marinka (“4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days“) – Romania
Nicolas Cazalé (“The Grocer’s Son“) – France
Elio Germano (“My Brother is an Only Child“) – Italy
Marko Igonda (“Return of the Storks“) – Slovak Republic
Joel Basman (“Cannabis“) – Switzerland
Stine Fischer Christensen (“After the Wedding“) – Denmark
Maryam Hassouni (“Kicks“) – Netherlands
Hannah Herzsprung (“Four Minutes“) – Germany

They were all delightful and talented.

I also had the pleasure of participating in a casting director panel discussion at the Berlinale Talent Campus, with casting directors from Prague, Paris, Lisbon, London and Copenhagen. It was fascinating to see how differently we all work and to pick up some new ideas!

I can’t wait to go back next year. I made some great connections with casting directors from all over Europe, whom I’m sure I will stay in contact with, so if anyone is looking to cast in Rome or Berlin or Zurich, etc., etc., let me know. I’m dialed in!

Thanks again to the EFP and the International Network of Casting Directors!

Next up: Back to Portland!

Monday, March 17, 2008

From "Burning Plain" to "Twilight" to the "Untraceable" premiere

by admin

My how time flies! Time to get caught up. I’ll probably have to do this in a few posts.

We wrapped casting on “The Burning Plain” (starring Charlize Theron) in January. I finally made it to set on the second to last day of the shoot, out on the Oregon Coast. Producer Ray Angelic and Director Guillermo Arriaga told me they were thrilled with the talent and crews they worked with. We hope they shoot here again!

After that, we started almost immediately on “Twilight” for Summit Entertainment. The film, directed by Catherine Hardwicke, is based on the publishing phenomenon by the same name, written by Stephenie Meyer, and teenagers are MAD about it! We’ve been getting emails from all around the world from kids begging to be considered for roles.

We did put out an open casting call for the role of Jacob, an American Indian teenager (causing our MySpace friends list to take off!), but that role has now been cast.

The remaining roles were all filled by professional actors and shooting is well underway. Photos of the lead cast can be seen on MTV’s website.

I somehow squeezed some travel in during all of this, first to attend the LA premiere of Lakeshore Entertainment’s “Untraceable,” starring Diane Lane. It was great fun to see Director Gregory Hoblit, Producer Hawk Koch and all of the cast again. Here are a few photos of the festivities:

Lana Veenker, Actress Betty Moyer and Actress Katie O’Grady
Betty Moyer, Katie O’Grady, Actress Diane Lane, Lana Veenker and Actress Angie Rutan
Casting Director Irene Cagen, Lana Veenker, Producer Hawk Koch and Katie O’Grady
Actress TL Forsberg, Actor Ty Giordano and Lana Veenker


More to follow…..