We held a casting session yesterday. We saw about fifteen actresses for the two lead roles in our six-minute little teen vampire comedy, YOU ARE SO UNDEAD. Yes, it's time to do another BravoFACT, inshallah.
I love casting. Casting is where you get to see professionals make your lines their own. (Or, in this case, Lisa's lines.) If a scene is going to be funny, it's going to be funny in the casting session, or at least in one of your casting sessions. (I think it might have been NAKED JOSH where we saw a lot of auditions that really hurt our confidence in the lines, until we got David Julian Hirsh nailing them.)
I like to take a bit of time with auditions, do multiple takes for the camera, and really see where the actors can take the direction. It's exciting watching a really good actor incorporate your directions. Suddenly a new emotion is there, or the scene takes a different flavor.
I'm always amazed watching dancers pick up choreography. They can see the choreographer do something once, and then repeat it. I can't do that. I spent part of the 70's failing to pick up the Hustle.
A good actor, you tell her, "when she says this, it's like a slap in the face to you," or, yesterday, "When you bite her, it's a huge rush," and boom, it's there.
The part of the brain where dancers can see the choreography in their heads, and actors can see the emotions, I see a sort of shape of the scene, or a shape of the whole screenplay. I can see where something's wrong in a story structure. I can sort of see how it would fix itself if you did this, or that. In my mind, the story actually has a shape that feels wrong or right.
One of the most valuable things I've ever done for my writing was taking Meisner Technique acting classes with Joanne Baron. I never had any intention of acting; I wanted to learn what actors do in the scene. I think every director should do some acting training, so you can understand how to talk to actors. But I found that acting helped my writing. I can feel the emotion in the scene more clearly and brightly. I can act the characters for myself better. I can tell when I'm forcing them to do stuff they're not really motivated to do.
I know a lot of you are taking writing classes. I feel the classes that have helped my writing the most haven't been writing classes. The acting classes were terrific. Taking Richard Marks's editing class at UCLA was really helpful. Taking Robert Farris Thompson's "Afro-Atlantic Tradition" class back in college gave me some pointers on syncopation. Sometimes it's helpful to attack things tangentially rather than head on.
Labels: casting, You Are So Undead