Saturday, 21 January 2012

Jenny Ringo 2 - Pre-production Diary 3...

We just announced it on the last mailout (which you would totally be getting if you signed up to the mailing list here) so I'll mention it here too - the title of the second Jenny Ringo film is...

Jenny Ringo and the Cabaret from Hell

I won't go into story details just yet but I can guarantee that the title is as literal as it was last time, in that the film will feature a cabaret that is indeed from hell.

Speaking of the mailing list, have you signed up yet? If you did you could get news like that a whole week before I announce it here! More importantly, if you haven't seen Jenny Ringo and the Monkey's Paw, signing up to the mailing list is the free and easy way to get the link. Speaking of which, if you've signed up and for some reason haven't received the link to watch the film you can e-mail me at whatwritesatmidnight[at]

So we spent last weekend auditioning for the two parts in the film that aren't Jenny and Gavin. I won't go into loads of detail about the actual auditions but they went well, we had to make some tough decisions and we now have a cast!

For my part I found the experience a lot more fun than previous auditions. This is the third time I've done it now. The first was for The Demon Within, a 5 minute horror film I made with university friend Dan Birt. Oh look, it's here!

That time I had no idea what I was doing or what I was looking for and I think in the end we really cast the person we thought would be easiest to work with (which, to be honest, is actually a pretty good place to start). Plus there wasn't much of a character to speak of so we didn't have much to base a decision on.

When we auditioned for Jenny Ringo and the Monkey's Paw I had a better idea of what I was looking for but my approach was completely wrong. I basically had concrete, 3-dimensional ideas of who the characters were, what they should look like and how they should behave. I was expecting to see a number of people attempt an approximation of what I had in my head and then I would pick whoever got closest. This is a terrible approach to casting a film. No one really came close to the characters I had in my head, but what I didn't realise until it was almost too late was that a lot of the actors were actually doing something better.

So this time I went in without a preconceived notion of how the characters would behave. I wasn't waiting for the characters themselves to walk through the door like I was before. I was waiting to see what the actors would bring to those characters. Which as I type it seems obvious, and like that's what I clearly should have been doing all along, but I am still learning about all this stuff.

As a result I found the audition process quite rewarding from a directing point of view. It was the first time I'd seen parts of the script performed so it was good to hear how the lines read and see how different people interpreted the scenes. I had some interesting conversations with some of the actors about the characters and what they were like. I had everyone try the performances a few different ways to see how they took direction and actually found this made me think about different ways the characters could be portrayed too.

I think some of this is down to working from a script someone else wrote. I really enjoyed directing my own script last time and I think as a writer the experience you get from producing your own work yourself is invaluable. But I'm not sure I learnt all that much about directing. I had a pretty definite idea of how everything should look and I did my best to recreate that but there wasn't much room for deviation. This time I have a good idea of how it should look and I certainly know the script very well from the editing side of things, but there aren't as many as specifics as before and I'm actually looking forward to exploring different possibilities.

Feel free to remind me I said all this when we're shooting and I don't have time to shoot the scenes I need to let alone experiment with different interpretations.

The important thing is we cast the film! We're still missing a few key crew members but I'm not at all worried about that!

So then Andrea and I tried to work out the schedule and I can't really think of a way to make that sound exciting. I will say that all the time I'd spent working with the writer on the script really paid off at this point. It helps to know the script really well for things like this because the scenes are reduced to lists of locations and actors with no indication of how long things will take. Unless there's some kind of awesome software that figures it all out for you, but I quite like the logistical challenge of figuring out who we need on which day.

On Thursday we visited the main location for the shoot and took a few photos for the DoP, like this one:

I had come straight from work, that's not my directing tie.

Things are really picking up now and there's only a few weeks left until we start shooting! I'll post a further update in the next week or so...

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