Casting A Spell.

Posted December 17th, 2012 by Ben

It’s a bright mid-December day and my breath clouds in front of my face. I’m winding through Soho on my way to the third day of casting for the feature I’m hoping to shoot next year.

Soho is not the beast it was. Even when Chris and I started out making films it had calmed from the licentious peaks of legend. Today this is not the seedy underbelly, though echoes of that world remain. My route leads me through the short arcade of sex shows that bring you to Berwick Street. Outside the tattoo parlour on the corner three guys share a dirty joke (the punchline is “shit or bust”, I’ll leave you to make up the rest) and for a moment this is Soho as was. I walk on through Berwick Street Market, one of the few London markets yet to impose the tag “Farmer’s”; presumably because the middle-class clientele usually drawn in by this prefer the idea that here in Soho they are shopping somewhere authentically urban. Not urban, that mean’s something else now, something modern. This is the built up, litter-strewn equivalent of bucolic. “Ucolic” perhaps, or maybe just “colic”. Whatever you call it, in Soho we’re all actors.

The only thing I don’t like about the process of casting is that eventually you have to pick someone. The fun part is the meeting, the exploring, the discovery and the surprises. I love the process of seeing the material through the lens of different performers. Perhaps so-and-so could play the role, perhaps it could work that shy, that manipulative, that German…

Though seeing different versions of a role is an important part of decision making, for me it becomes a bit like collecting football stickers. A tall one? (got) An angry one? (got) A Scottish one (need)… It’s easy to forget that in the end we only need one. In the end we can only have one.

The fact that we cannot work with most of the brilliant actors we meet is the sad sting in the tail of this exhilarating process.

  1. adam

    My mum always told me it is not personal and most casting directors have an idea in their heads before you even walk in the door. I have won auditions twice where the director has said afterwards that he and she knew I was the one before I even opened my mouth. So you just have to be yourself and hope for the best.

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