Horizon: Casting

Posted Wednesday, December 10, 2008, 4:53 PM

As this is my first proper short film (not counting the stuff I did for abbywinters.com) I am finding myself having to make the kinds of decisions that I have long heard about when others do it, but now are inevitably my own to make. It's somewhat surreal, as well as imposing. I'm a little bit worried, but also excited.

Casting has always been something I have been afraid of. When I wrote Horizon, I deliberately eliminated all the spoken dialogue, to avoid the fear of having to deal with bad acting ruining my film, something I see very often. Dialogue performance in an Australian accent always sounds bad to me, and you have to be really seriously amazing to make it work. It's the difference between Neighbours and The Castle; One sounds like lame boring line recitation, and the other sounds like real people. Coupled with the fact that my idea of good acting rarely coincides with what others think is good (a strange situation, I thought), I had to do something, and the answer was to eliminate the need for dialogue at all.

But I also was worried about going through the full audition process when there's no dialogue - how do you audition people for that? Ask them to cry on demand? Impossible. I was painting myself into a corner. The single thing that mattered to me more than anything was that you'd believe the romance between the two characters; accept that they really loved each other. A good actor can do that, but if I'm not auditioning or requiring great actors, then that limits my options - and the answer to that conundrum I set myself was to cast a real life couple.

Crikey, that's a big ask! In my attempt of making things easier for myself, was I really making things more difficult?

We've been working with Alex Sheedy, who is the girlfriend of a casual crew member Andy Scott, on a side project. She's proven herself to be excellent at taking direction, and enthusiastic in taking part in our crazy ideas. To the point where every new project idea Rob and I come up with, we slot her into it, imagining her in our heads to see if she fits. Sometimes she does.

What's that you say? Girlfriend of Andy Scott? Why yes indeed, that's rather convenient, isn't it? Andy is just the right age and look to play a fighter pilot! So I contacted them both, we've discussed it some, and they have signed on.

That's a big weight off my shoulders. I now have my cast, about two thirds of my locations, and most of my crew. All that's required now is to compile a shot list, book some equipment, and commit to actually filming it.

Easier said than done.

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