“If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same..”
“If” by Rudyard Kipling.
As you all well know an actor’s life can be tough, there’s an enormous amount of rejection and frustration. However the highs and moments of joy are so special and deserve to be cherished. I believe that everyone, and not only actors, should have their own personal box of joy. A place in your mind that you reserve for happy memories that you can access at times of sadness, worry, stress or rejection. Or even just when you feel like giving yourself a little boost of positivity. Remember the feeling when your agent called you to tell you you’d got the part, the moment when the curtain went down and the applause started and you knew that you had given your very best performance or when you are praised for your talent. They don’t have to be major triumphs or even things that other people necessarily would find that amazing, just milestones in your career that bring a smile to your face.
I was especially reminded of this when I read a post on Laia Costa’s page on Facebook after her triumphant week winning a major award in Germany and her film “Victoria” opening to rave reviews from somebody saying “Hola Laia respecto el teu treball i el premi que t'an donat pero espero que no s'et puji al cap despres l'aterratje es molt dur” which roughly translates to “I respect your work and the prize you’ve been given but hope it doesn’t go to your head as the come-down afterwards is very tough”.
I totally disagree – I truly believe that we should live the moments of triumph and joy in our lives to the maximum. Celebrate everything that can be celebrated, dance with unbridled joy and savour the giddy heights of success. Sure they may not last and sure life has its swings and roundabout but as an actor (or indeed anyone) knowing how to take the rough with the smooth is an important life lesson. And when things go badly and you feel immersed in black clouds, remember that this too will pass and that the lows help us to appreciate the highs so also have value.
WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS
I truly love my job but there are frustrating moments. The greatest joy of a casting director is sitting in a cinema and watching magic happen on screen. For me this is when I see that the actor and role are perfectly matched, and that I have played a part in this process.
However there are many obstacles to us casting witches being able to wave our wands and cast the spell which convinces directors and producers to at least consider the unknown actor. Film financing nowadays is largely dependent on cast as this helps pre-sales. This means that producers want “names”. A name is an actor who has box-office appeal and who is sufficiently well known across the world to make people want to invest or pre-purchase the film. There are very few real names and these are the actors that everyone knows – the stars like Tom Cruise, Michael Fassbender, Nicole Kidman, Jessica Chastain.
As we discussed at the Casting Directors Panel at Cannes this year which I was privileged to be part of along with Nancy Bishop, Matthew Lessal and Susan Shoemaker, it is not exactly fun for a casting director trying to cast this kind of talent. It’s just a matter of trying to do a deal with their agent who normally have no or very little interest in independent film made in Europe. It’s about meeting budget and contractual requirements and finding spaces in a busy actor’s calendar. Susan Shoemaker has a great way of explaining it via the casting triangle – at the top there are the stars who everyone wants as they automatically guarantee the bankability of your Project but really where the magic happens is when you cast either an actor/actress on the way up or even on the way down.
And I don’t believe that this kind of casting makes for better films. Successful independent films usually have casting of relative unknowns who have put their heart and soul into their performance. Finding the perfect actor during the casting process is the true buzz of a casting director. When casting directors meet up these are the triumphs that we share amongst ourselves. I still remember Pep Armengol’s delight when he found the young actors for “Pa Negre”; Francesc Colomer and Marina Comas who went on to win the Goya for best new actor and actress. Discovering new talent is where the magic happens.
"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving."
The Festival of Cannes is one of the fixed points in my calendar every year. I love the buzz and seeing the wonderful mixture of people as they flock down the Croisette. There is a mixture of high glamour and low sleaze. Sometimes it feels like everyone is on the make; producers running from meeting to meeting trying to get financing for their next project, stars twinkling in endless press meetings, high class prostitutes lurking like stalking cats in the lobbies of 5 star hotels hoping to land their next millionaire client and just about everybody else trying to blag invitations to the best parties.
I find it inspiring to see films and meet filmmakers from all over the world. Wandering round the Pavillions at the Village International or the stands at the Marché du Film gives you the opportunity to mingle with all kinds of characters and simply observe the film community at large in one of their natural habitats. The desire to tell stories and make films is universal.
I always leave Cannes hungover, slightly exhausted but reassured that the film industry is alive and kicking. Great films are being produced across the globe and I am lucky enough to be involved in this crazy, mixed up industry.
Photo Credit: Starlet by Ericd@enwiki
Casting is all about finding the right actor for each role but given the current state of film financing, it can now be even more about putting a cast together that helps the financing of the film, its distribution, release and success at box office not to mention foreign sales. This makes for a delicate balance between suitability and bankability.
Matthew Lessall, a casting director I respect and admire has some very good comments this week in his blog
http://filmindustrybloggers.com/thecastingdirector/ about attaching talent to independent films; well worth reading and contains some important home truths for producers.
More government cuts have been announced for the film industry in Spain which is a source of great concern to all involved - it looks like it's going to be a rocky ride for the foreseeable future. However as the saying goes: "when the going gets tough, the tough get going" so it's going to be interesting to see who manages to get their films made and how...
On a more cheerful note, this week I went to see Bingo! - a play about two actresses, one well-established but past her peak and the other trying to break into the industry, who meet at a casting for the same role. Starring and written by Sonia Barba and Lorea Uresberueta. It was fresh, well-written with some witty dialogue and it certainly made this casting director laugh
Pep Armengol gave our first ever course at the studio. It was a very productive three days for all involved and the feedback from the participants has been amazing. We have more courses coming so if you're interested check out our facebook page: