Monday, January 29, 2007

Pretend's New Home


Bloggers gotten a bit persnickity - so PRETEND is moving. You can now find it here:

Friday, January 26, 2007

Casting Journal 2 of 3


Casting Eddie’s spent but none-the-less loving mother, Merideth proved to be the real challenge. And coming up with the right solution proved to be a point of contention between me and my producers.

My feeling was, is that the film hinges around whoever plays Eddie. If you don’t believe the boy – you don’t believe the film. So whoever we cast as Merideth is the woman who most believably fits with who we want with Eddie.

My feeling was also that I hate spending more money then is necessary, so I felt that we should bring in women to immediately read against the 5 boys we had narrowed down to for Eddie. In one day. I mean, why would I want to even waste my time seeing auditions, if they could never work with the kids we had cast?

Jack and Claudia disagreed. They thought we should have an audition for the mother, narrow that down – and then do a third call back where we paired the boys to the mothers later. And thank God they thought so. More on that tomorrow…

Having had to reschedule for after the break (no one likes to audition for shorts two weeks before Christmas apparently) – we were out of the swing of things. I’ll admit the last thing I was mentally prepared for was seeing auditions, after the whirlwind that was my New Years trip to New York.
But somehow, as the women trickled in (emphasis on trickle, as just about a dozen of the 50 we called showed up) we quickly found a great range of mothers for our Eddies. Usually at these auditions, the pickings are a bit slim. But we were floored by the talent that came in. Just like with the boys, we were able to find 5 great choices for Merideth. One for each our Eddie’s. And suddenly I was overcome by the exciting notion, that in a week I’d have my cast.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Excuse my mess...


We switched into a new year, and new mode of production. To celebrate, the blog is getting a face lift - watch out for flying debris and chime in on the new look when its finally done!

Casting Journal: 1 of 3


It's a phrase often quoted in many a film / directing class and yet still manages to be true. And that's 95% of good directing is the casting. I don't know if I agree with the exact percentage point - but boy it’s up there.


Casting is a true multi-faceted art form. It certainly begins with "the look" - the head shot and resume (an incredibly useful tool that tells you everything and nothing at the same time.) But beyond that, casting (especially on the super indie level) is about digging deep for real talent. I don't have the benefit of having seen their work - or relying on their "star power." Most of the fine folks that show up for an indie short audition are still budding, still building their reels, looking for a big break.

Because we've no reference point, we've got to constantly have a few criteria, a few questions other then "Do they look like a mother" in mind. Can they act? Do I believe them? There's also the question of mold-ability. How do they take a note? Will they take chances and give me something from the material I didn't even know was there? And even if they're perfect for the part; Still lingers the most important question of all. "Will they care enough about some dinky short to show up the day we shoot."


In casting Pretend, we went to The Actors Studio, a great little spot off Pico and Robertson. Its got a mini lobby, and a great stage area. When you're bringing in actors you’ve no prior experience with, I think its important to let them know you're serious - and these auditions were important enough to do them in a space. We probably could've cut costs and had them at one our apartments or something - but somehow the thought of having an audition in an apartment always recalls that Coco scene from fame. Not exactly the image I'd like to project. I mean I want people to show up.


Luckily we did not have that problem in casting Eddie. A feat owed to the efforts of my all star producer team – particularly Jack Perry and Claudia Vazquez.

Dozens of very talented, and very young thespians showed up to audition for Eddie. It was a fascinating process. Even when writing the character, I was never quite sure of how old he was. Seeing boys from 5 to 14 read for the part was kind of like this great workshop. They’d give me something, I’d make a suggestions – and suddenly we had a reading we both helped create. And ultimately, a good casting decision feels the same way. I'm always looking for an actor who can surprise me, and bring something to the table.

With Pretend, I had in mind a black boy at about age 9 who looked and talked a certain way. But instead of being so narrow with our search, we opened it up to all races and gave a wider age range. Ultimately, I'm looking for someone who will bring something to the role that is more then I ever dreamed of. And in that way a true collaborator.

The auditions for Eddie were incredibly successful. From dozens, we were able to narrow it down to 5 boys – of all different ages and races. I’m confident that one of them will make the perfect Eddie. Its just left to one more important casting question…chemistry.

More on that and the auditions for Eddie’s mother, Merideth to come...

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy 2007

More on Pretend is soon to come. For now - I'm soaking up the beginning of another new year.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A new favorite

preproduction > blogger blog

Just found a blog after my own heart,, a nifty spot where another filmmaker is blogging the joys and pains of making short film. Its got great insights, and a very familiar journey. I can relate my friend, I can relate!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Check In November: The Search Continues


Once you accept that it is natural to create, you can begin to accept a second idea-that the creator will hand you what you need for the project.

- Julia Cameron, The Artists Way

I have no doubt in my mind that making this film is precisely what it is I should be doing right now. It’s going to be an amazing journey.

One I find myself further and further in then I expect. When I made Rings, it was very tempting to remind myself how far away I was from the project. How looong it was until we had to cast, or shoot, or finish the sound design.

I’m learning to let go of that. To say bring it on to the next challenge. What’s great about having dedicated producers is that the story of this story Pretend, starts to take a life of its own. Jack is particularly good about not letting not much happen for very long – something I was certainly guilty of on previous projects.


Casting is next week! I can hardly believe it. Jack got us a great deal at this place – which I’ve used quite a few times in the past. I’ve never auditioned children before but I'm more excited then nervous at the prospect. What unerves me more are the flash backs to my last casting experience. We got a great one for Rings, but after many many sessions – and much stress.

Headshots, great headshots, have come in. Now we see who actually shows up. As I’ve said before – since we don’t have gobs of money, so much of this story working or not working depends on finding the perfect Eddie. If we don’t find him in the next two weekends, this is not time to tell this story. Its that simple. Whether we’re shooting on 35, HD, hell cassette tape – this story sails or sinks by this casting decision.

No pressure right?

We'll find him.

On to the look of the film. HD is less scary now then it was a month ago - and after a pow-wow with Christina I'm confident in shooting this on the format. The key is to find the equipment and keep the look we've agreed upon uncomprimised - but not spend a fortune. I feel confident something will come through. We all know enough people to find a deal, and make this work. The only challenge truly left unsolved is the location. And I think it will be a simple solve. I've just got to call in some favors.

So there we are. This is where I'm at. Hopefully a month from now we'll have a cast, a location, and a better written check in.

Friday, November 17, 2006

High Deaf


HD makes me wet my pants. A little. Peter Frintrup, myself, Jack and Christina met to talk HD and special effects in general. Amidst the refined west Hollywood ambiance of Basix, and over a table much too small, Peter filled us in on a little detail that had honestly alluded me. Shooting HD is a process. Is it cheaper than film? Sometimes. Does it look as good? Depends. But doesn’t it take less time to do the post? Maybe…

Christina seemed to understand most of what Peter was so patiently explaining to us – and that’s what’s important – because a lot of it went right over my head. It’s all a bit daunting to be honest, and more expensive sounding then I expected. Going on sites like helped little, as I felt I was wading a pool of indecipherable tech talk – but I think I’m starting to get it.

We basically need to pick the format, weighing the pros and cons – the ratio going something like quality and film similarity vs. cost. And then we need to figure out what to edit on and for. Both decisions traditionally coming with a cost. More on all of that later.

The one thing we all seemed to grasp and agree on is the process by which to do the special effects shots – which are intended to give the illusion that Eddie can levitate a ball in the air. We all ex-nayed CGI – both because of its cost and the fact that it will look like CGI. Instead we’re looking to adopt the old fashioned approach of compositing. Floating the ball with say a string, and plugging in a rotating surface onto the ball in after effects.
The ever connected Christina has an idea of someone who might be able to figure out how to do just that. Here’s hoping he’s interested.