Skype Auditions and Getting Ready to Shoot Again

Seeing as how episode 7 production just snuck up on us while we were trying to finish post on episode 6, there was barely any time for auditions. Auditions just take time. You have to write a casting call, put it up, sort through all the submissions, reserve a space which costs money, notify actors of their times, rearrange the times sheet based on people’s availability (you have to work with people’s availability when you’re only offering to pay in copy, credit, and meals), travel to the audition space, go through all the auditions, drive back home, notify everyone who’s cast and send out the schedules and scripts. As I was looking down the barrel of all of this, I got to thinking, I can’t eliminate much from the process, but I can get rid of the space and the travel. Holding Skype auditions went so smoothly I couldn’t believe it. I interviewed people from the comfort of my home office and got an idea of their read on a character, ability to take direction, non-headshot appearance, and ability to make small talk like a person. It was awesome. There were only one or two technical problems (always unavoidable), and they were quickly solved with a hang-up/call-back or a visit to camera preferences. The only question remaining is a fairly obvious one…what about their ability to perform outside of a comfortable environment? Bringing that same performance to a room full of strangers and a rolling camera probably says a lot about an actors ability to perform under pressure, but I just didn’t have the time or money this time. We’re waiting to do our crowd-sourced fundraising campaign until episode 6 is finished and Eliza and I are funding episode 7 production out of our savings for the time being. Hopefully the audience will come through for us again or I guess we won’t be going to visit my sister this year.

We start shooting episode 7 on Saturday night. That’s like…right now. It’s always right on top of you before you know it. Every time my phone beeps with a text message or email alert my stomach rolls over as I wonder what problem has suddenly sprung up. I’ve been thinking about all the hats I wear on the show. I think I’m a solid writer and director; the characters are consistent and fun, the tone always comes through, and the shots are carefully considered to shape how the audience experiences the story and to eliminate confusion. I also think I’m a pretty decent editor; the pacing is good and I can consistently find an artful way to cut down a scene that’s dragging on if I’ve overwritten. As a VFX artist, I’m barely passable. You get the idea of what’s happening from my VFX, but it’s not going to look as slick as if anyone with a little talent for it is doing it. All of this has been leading up to what I should NOT be doing. I’m a terrible production manager. Nothing makes me a frustrated ball of moodiness like trying to align schedules or locate props and locations. God forbid anything goes wrong and I have to rearrange things. It’s like the world ends. My poor wife. Pre-pro is the worst-o.

On the plus side, the new Dark Shadows soundtrack by Danny Elfman is killer. Whatever I’m typing feels so dramatic and imperative whenever I listen to it. Good times. By this time next week we’ll have a couple shoot days under our collective belt.

Thanks for reading.

–Jarvi

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