by Mark Bessenger [Director]
Not knowing how or where to post about auditions, I asked my pal Sean Abley, director of SOCKET, for advice. He told me to try LACasting.com
. I wrote up a paragraph about the project, the story and the two male leads I was casting for, being very careful to detail that these were gay and sexually-confused characters and that there would be backside nudity, a straight sex scene and a gay sex scene, both R-rated. I stressed that this was to be a non-union ultra-low budget feature and that we would be shooting in the mid-west.
Once posted, I got a slew of actors posting headshots and resumes online for me to look at. Most of them weren't right for the part, but there were some that had the look I was going for. I selected the ones I wanted to see read and contacted them either by email or telephone.
A friend of mine managed a small studio and he agreed to let me hold the auditions there on a Saturday. He would also operate the video camera and record their auditions.
As the replies from the actors started to come in to make appointments, they started asking me about "sides". Now, I haven't dealt with actors in about 20 years, so I had no idea what "sides" were, so I called another friend, Nic Arnzen, who was touring the country with the show he had directed, Terrence McNally's "Corpus Christi". He told me that actors didn't really do monologues anymore, they would just study a couple scenes from the script and read them on stage. Now, at this point, one of my actors had already been cast, an inexperienced but enthusiastic young man named David, who said he'd be delighted to read the other parts in the scenes for the auditioning actors. Slot and slot was assigned until we were booked from 10am to 3pm with 16 guys. Two were not able to attend, but sent me links to videotaped readings of the sides on YouTube, but neither of them really interested me.
Then, as I was going over the latest batch of actors who had posted on LACasting, I noticed something that made me grit my teeth: when posting the character profiles of the two lead parts, the bits about nudity and sexual situations had been deleted. The parts about the characters being gay were still there, as was the part about the movie being a horror-comedy, but the actors had no idea that there would be nudity and R-rated sex involved. Erg.
I knew this might make some of the guys uncomfortable. To play gay in a movie was one thing, but to show your bare behind and simulate homosex was another, and I didn't want to waste their time or mine. So as I emailed everyone their sides, I included a note explaining the nudity involved for each character, as well as the sex and how I envisioned it. I also asked (politely) that if anyone felt uncomfortable with it, that they might want to think twice about auditioning and to contact me to cancel their time slot in case someone else needed it.
It was about this time that I got a phone call from an actor named Windham who told me that he really wanted to audition but that he was SAG. He had been in two other indie features and they applied to SAG for a waiver to accommodate him. I told him I didn't want to do that, and thanked him for his interest, then, after hanging up, I did some research on him and realized that I had seen the two films he had done and liked his performance very much. I was actually Facebook friends with the director of both films, so I asked him how he was able to use a SAG actor in a non-union film and he told me about the SAG Ultra-Low-Budget Independent Film option. With California being a "right to work" state, they had to provide a way for union actors to work in non-union films if they wanted to. It involved a lot of paperwork, he told me, but it could be done. So I called Windham back and asked him to come and audition.
Saturday was fast approaching, and I asked another friend to work the green room, signing actors in as they arrived, handing them paperwork and disclaimers, an additional scene to read cold and giving them water and Red Bull. I realized that one actor was in HOBGOBLINS 2 and another was in BLOOD MASK, so I checked out both movies to get some idea of their skill. The flicks sucked, but both guys did okay in their small parts.
Two days before auditions, I got 2 emails: one was from an actor slated to try out for the truck driver, who said he didn't feel comfortable with the project and backed out; the other was from an actor auditioning for one of the gay characters who wrote (in a manner I interpreted as rather dry) that he was of the understanding that the movie was a horror-comedy and that simulated gay sex to get an R rating didn't fit in with that genre. He wished me good luck but said he couldn't be a part of it unless it was a bigger-budgeted production for a major studio! Bru-ther. I returned his email, telling him that the movie was about a trucker questioning his sexuality while being attacked by vampires...and it was funny. We didn't need the sex to get an R rating, the blood and gore would do that. And I wished him luck with his career, too.
Saturday morning, I loaded up my car with lights, camera, water and Red Bull and headed out to the studio, excited but a bit nervous as to what the day would bring.