Saturday, October 08, 2005

Auditioning actors for our romantic comedy

This week we started our casting process for "Obsession", the first of three cycle films I'm directing this year. We're looking for a lead guy and a lead girl. It was my first time sitting behind this big casting table listening to complete strangers and watching them interpret the roles. What I love about actors, well, the good ones, is that they have so much that they bring to a character. Most of the guys played the statistician character very plainly, going for the obvious, but then we had this one guy, who I decided is the man we're looking for, who brought a lot of back and forth energy to the audition.

The movie is about a guy who keeps buying flowers from a flower girl down by his office as he attempts to express his lover for her. But instead of talking to her, he keeps taking the flowers back to his office and plucking the petals off as he plays this game of "she loves me, she loves me not". The Obsession comes in as every flower ends on "She loves me not." It drives him nuts. In the meantime, she starts to get curious about him. She thinks he must love flowers. So while she tries to speak to him, he's in a rush to get the flowers and go back so he can pluck them off. I won't tell you the ending because I might try to put the movie on my web site when it's done.

The majority of the guys acted out the role simply by saying the lines. Then this last guy we saw on Friday comes in and asks detailed questions about the tone and the motivation. You can see he really wants to give the role his all. I love it when I see passionate people. Then he starts playing this guy. He mumbles to himself before going to speak to her. He practices his speach as he's walking up, he stops himself, takes a breath, steps forward, then slows himself down again. Very funny energy. He's our man. We're still loking for the right girl. More auditions next week.

So this leads me to a point that I had to admit one of my fellows is true in saying. Casting is everything. If you cast the wrong person in the role, then you can't make them right. A big portion of directing performance is in choosing the right person to work with. Someone who brings another layer of life to the written words. Again, this takes us back to subtext. You hire the person who can bring out the subtext in the character.


Blogger Linda said...

Amin, what do you think of producers or directors who hire an actor because of the name, instead of their acting ability?

I mean, this guy sounds great. But if tom cruise came to you guys and said he would do it, but he was all wrong for the part, would you still do it?

11:43 AM  
Blogger Amin Matalqa said...

Well, if Tom Cruise was interested in the role, I would hire him because he's Tom Cruise. No question about it. But also, I'm sure Tom Cruise would be interested in the role because he would see himself bringing something to it. Have you seen him in Jerry McGuire? He was amazing. That role was originally written for Tom Hanks.

But on the question of directors doing that, most of the time studios guarantee certain finances for a film only if there's a certain well known name associated with it. The industry word is "talent". If you have certain "talent" name on your movie, then you have a captive audience that will bring a certain amount of dollars back to your movie. This means that your movie can get funded so it can get made. Most of the time, without a big name (A-list or B-list), you're not guaranteed distribution. You have to get distribution for your movie. It is the movie BUSINESS after all. So it's just a question of balancing the art with the business aspect of it all. They are so tightly intertwined.

As for my personal opinion as a director, I would hire whoever I feel fits the role or brings a certain element of freshness or authenticity to it. Otherwise, the movie will not work. So I'm not a fan of having big names just for the sake of having big names, but sometimes that's how Hollywood works and the studios over-ride everyone else's say. They provide the money after all. It's a great thing that there are all these independent production companies though, because those are the ones that care.

3:51 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

thank you amin for your response. it is so interesting to see you go though all of this, especially as a jordanian.

wow, i never knew that role was written for tom hanks. hmmmm i wonder how he would have done in that.

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