Michael Giacchino seems to having so much fun scoring Star Trek and other blockbusters! I love how he shares tidbits with his followers.
Did that leave a grin on your face?
UPDATE: At SDCC2014, I found out there really was a man inside of the 10 foot high robot! I hadn’t though so, but at a demo of another big active model, I met Zennie Abraham, who had watched the robot setup last year. Zennie is a prolific blogger and did a great interview with the man behind the robot. It shows how the man & machine come together: http://youtu.be/ScNIWqiOv5Q
Check out Zennie’s blog at http://www.zennie62blog.com.
I’m off to Comic-Con! I have tickets for only 2 days but just seeing what is going on outside the convention center is worth the trip. Here’s clip of something I wandered into last year – a “rehearsal” of a 10 foot high robot!!
During the demo, they unhooked the robot from its support, making sure it could balance itself. Then they tested how well it walked. What fascinated me about the robot was how sophisticated its balance was. It didn’t stand like a statue; it stood like a human, with all the little motions and adjustments we do automatically.
You can see a little of that here: Robot
Once they’d tested the basic movements, they rehearsed a brief scene – an interaction with a person. The robot’s motion and voice were controlled remotely. If you’re a total robot geek like me, you can see all 16 minutes here: http://youtu.be/LAl5tj0lP84
I have to admit I kept thinking of all the movies in which a robot being tested started attacking the crowd. In this case, me!
If you’re looking at this blog, you probably have heard of the San Diego Comic Con. And maybe about Nerd HQ – a happening parallel to SDCC that has panels & demos & parties galore! Nerd is a fun alternative for those without an SDCC ticket for a day or for those seeking refuge from the convention hall lines. Many stars show up at Nerd panels, which are reasonably sized events, the ~$20 ticket proceeds going to a charity.
Nerd HQ however costs money. Money which founder Zach Levy has been fronting. But he needs help. He put together an Indiegogo campaign asking for support – and got enough that there will be a Nerd HQ at SDCC2014! Here’s the link to find out more: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/i-want-my-nerd-hq-2014/x/641260
I was impressed with Nerd at SDCC 2013 – lots of gaming computers, neat robots & virtual reality demos – and a darn good party! I’m also fascinated to see how crowd funding is growing in popularity and in the amount of $ it can raise. Look at the Kickstarter-funded movie “Laura Mars” which quickly reached its goal and went on to raise over $5 million!
Personally I prefer to back Kickstarter projects – if the organizers can’t get it together enough to reach their goal, I get my money back. Producers and directors I’ve talked to prefer Indiegogo – they don’t have to reach the goal in order to get whatever dollars are contributed.
If you or anyone you know is considering a crowd-funding effort, I strongly recommend reading The Secrets of Crowdfunding by Sean Akers. It is packed full of useful information about what to consider when seeking funding – and some very good project management tips. Sound weighty? Delightfully it is an easy book to read – an hour, maybe? – a plus in the entertainment world where many confess to low attention spans! You can find this on Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00AF3LBDC
Suppose you were considering casting Thor and the Avengers – and Chris Hemsworth walked in the door! Would you have seen his Star Power?
Casting Director Randi Hiller says “Chris is 6ft 5in and ridiculously handsome. You look at him and think ‘Thor’,” but Randi says that at first he just didn’t have “The Strut”. Clearly Chris was clearly someone to keep an eye on. So how did he end up as Thor?
He got cast as Kirk’s father in the 2009 Star Trek reboot – and that changed things. Randi said that after that “his skin fit”. Now he was ready for Thor!
Star Trek 2009 had me hooked from the beginning with George Kirk. He WAS our Capt. Kirk’s father without doubt. Later in Thor, Chris was perfect. It never occurred to me that long before, someone had to see that potential in the actor to cast him – until I had an opportunity to learn more about casting.
2013 was my first San Diego Comic Con. I loved the costumes and characters and huge halls with panels of movie and TV celebrities. I was just as delighted to find that one of the events was a panel of casting directors. Aha! The guys and gals who see the hopeful actors and pick the ones that might be matches for the leading roles. How do they spot the magical potential in the actors?
I found that it’s more involved than I thought. It isn’t just matching Looks X to Role Y. As one panel member said, “Our job is to have ‘actor fluency’.”
The moderator of the panel was Lora Kennedy (Warner Brothers, EVP, Features Casting. CD, Man of Steel). Panelists were Roger Mussenden (X-Men: Days of Future Past), Sharon Bialy (The Walking Dead), David Rapaport (Arrow) and Randi Hiller (of Walt Disney Studios, VP Casting. CD, The Avengers). Our current superheroes started here!
So what are Casting Directors looking for?
– For a lead in a multi-million picture, they need a known actor, someone with experience. “The Studio wants someone famous – at least someone who won’t FU their project!” TV is a good place to get known because an actor doesn’t need a name to become a TV star. I thought of Zachary Quinto, cast as Spock for Star Trek 2009. He was the first role cast, even though he had no movie experience. But he did have TV experience, getting star status as Sylar in Heroes. Zachary has also said that he spent his early years in Hollywood getting to know the Casting Directors. What about smaller roles? The panel said that for those the actor can have less experience.
– Actors with representatives get looked at first. Un-repped actors get looked at, but not first. It is very rare to pull someone off the street, as was claimed to happen in the early days of Hollywood. If the actor picked drops out, will they go to the #2 choice. Almost never, alas. They are more likely to start over.
– Casting means going through tons of headshots. I knew that every actor had them. The few I’ve seen looked very glamorous. But the panel said not to send a glamor shot, but something that captures the actor’s personality. Sharen said that first they look for the given age & type range. Then for the training. If someone doesn’t fit the current project but has potential – an “It” factor – they’ll note him or her in their “black books” for later roles.
– Tapes act as a pre-audition. Tip: check the tape! Casting gets many tapes with no sound or other glitches. Not good! Casting Directors have to go through a lot of material, so they favor something where they can click a button and look at a short clip quickly. Randi said, “Long montages don’t get you anywhere. Put your best foot forward. I don’t want to see a scene from your acting class.”
– Whether headshots or tapes, they are looking for someone unique. The panel said that actors shouldn’t try to be who they think the casting director wants.
– They look for someone who acts professional and looks proud of what they do. Casting Directors prefer actors who show up and are on time. An actor in the audience said, “These days if you want a job in Hollywood, you need a British passport!” Randi replied that it wasn’t a matter of nationality, but of work ethic. She gave an example of a project with 5 Brits, 5 Australians and 10 Americans. The Brits and Aussies showed up on time and were fully prepared. Half of the Americans often didn’t show up – car trouble, sick – lots of excuses. Those that did weren’t prepared. Wow! The American work ethic has deteriorated even in this highly competitive field!
– A killer audition is what got many current stars remembered. Several on the panel said it’s important to play the character that is presented. If auditioning for someone with super powers, to play the person – not the power. Sharon said, “Your job is to make the story move forward. It is not about you!”
OK, even if an actor meets all the criteria, is that it? Who makes the real casting decision? Sure, the casting director presents his or her choice but who makes the casting decision? The director? The studio producer? The show runner (the person responsible for the day to day operation of a TV series)? Turns out that it varies.
Sharon said that for her series the show runner has the final say, but usually all are on the same page. Being cable, they don’t have a committee decision. David said that with Arrow on The CW it is similar. But for the networks and movies, it’s like forty-five (!) people have to sign-off on a co-star. They end up going back to the drawing board a lot. One panel member told of a meeting with twenty-five people, each of whom wanted to say something about each decision – agonizing!!
Sometimes there are union issues or things outside the actor’s control that means he or she can’t be cast for a role. For example, if the shooting is in another country, they may not be able to get the actor accepted in the role or get them there in time.
What a fascinating job! Not all is just looking at gorgeous actors. It sounds like Casting Directors need a lot of patience.
Are you an actor? There’s more you may find helpful on the full panel discussion here.
Do you have any experience with casting actors? Or being cast yourself? What was it like for you? I’d love to hear your comment.
The Mecca for Sci Fi geeks – Trekkies & others – is the San Diego Comic Con. Over 130,000 people gather annually to celebrate graphic novels, TV shows, movies, cosplay, video games, Dungeon & Dragons – and heavens know what else! My very first San Diego Comic Con was overwhelmingly a blast! The people! The costumes! The panels! The exhibits!
If you don’t know about SDCC, a big part of the fun is that people dress up – “cosplay” – costumed role playing – and others take pictures of them and with them. One of my roomies, actress Laura Stephens, got nationwide coverage for her Lolita Capt. America costume. Costumes and SDCC go together!
In the exhibit hall I got to get a close-up view of an awesome and huge demon, complete with wings and horns. Whew! He was at the booth for the Cinema Makeup School. For a closer look, click this: http://youtu.be/4FTtCq2IQrw
I talked to Katie from the school about who they were and why they were here. Katie said the school is based in Los Angeles and teaches everything from beauty makeup through airbrushing, photo hairstyling, character makeup, prosthetic and more. Classes run from one week to 4 ½ months. Their website is www.cinemamakeup.com. Oh man, I wish I could go hang out in LA long enough to take their full course! So far my own makeup specialty is bullet holes and blood, small potatoes to this crew.
Makeup students were at the booth applying bruises and small injuries for people who stopped by. Apparently each day they demonstrated a major effect, like this demon and on another day, an arachnid femme fatale.
This demon is the creation of Wayne Anderson, a graduate of the school who was featured on SyFy’s Face Off. To get the actor into the makeup this time took only about 2 to 2 ½ hours, but it took a couple of months to put the whole effect together. The horns were made of resin. Each piece was molded. I must admit I was a little scared to talk to this otherworldly fellow directly, but I bet it was hot in there. He literally had a wing man, who made sure passersby didn’t impale themselves on the wings tips. I wonder how much the whole thing weighed!