I’ve worked casting calls before, stage managing, reading, maybe taping. I had never really run one myself before Catching Up. When I mentioned to Vanessa that I was feeling a little overwhelmed by the casting process, she stepped forward and asked me if I needed help.
I jumped at the chance, and in the end the caliber of our cast was a direct result of Vanessa’s efforts. She found a great place for us to hold our DC auditions, and got the word out to a wonderful crop of actors. She also kept me going through the marathon session that we ran here.
Our auditions in Christiansburg were a revelation, and part of that was because Vanessa found a lot of local theatre companies to reach out to. She also worked closely with Bo Keister and Actors Anonymous for the space to hold the auditions (which were graciously provided by the studio).
But the thing that Vanessa did that was completely priceless to me was the marathon discussion we had after both auditions were over. We sat down with a stack of headshots and two sign in sheets to cast the film. I had a lot of opinions of the actors that I had seen, and in the end we did end up casting all of the actors that my gut instinct told me I wanted. But at the same time, I didn’t trust my gut at first. I waffled, I thought maybe I didn’t know for sure. Sometimes, I didn’t know exactly WHY I loved someone and I couldn’t articulate it and that made me feel that maybe I was wrong. I was so worried that I would go on a first impression and get an actor that wasn’t right for the job when we got to set.
Vanessa was able to watch the auditions with me again and start helping me explain why these were the best actors for the job. She understood my gut instinct and she trusted it even when I didn’t. She explained things to me about acting that later on helped me be a better director.
When we finished that casting session, and Vanessa reached out to all the actors we were completely lucky that everyone said yes. That cast that Vanessa and I put together are the anchor of the film, and they were amazing.
I now completely understand the value of a good casting director, and I can’t imagine casting a film without Vanessa’s help. Not to mention the fact that the long drive to Pulaski and back was so much easier when I had somebody so great to talk to on the way. At multiple points in the process of filming, I would call Vanessa for advice or just to have somebody to talk to and she always had the most encouraging words, and knew what I needed to hear.