By Marci Liroff
So, I’m still trying to watch the Tonys. It was now time to move into the bedroom to watch the show from there. All that Social Media twittering for the lost dog was exhausting!
It was 8:52 when the first email came thru on my iPad. Bong!
Subject line: “IMPASSE CASTING EMERGENCY!” It seems that my buddy, Jeanne Veillette Bowerman was having a huge problem. The lead actress for her short film IMPASSE was having a family emergency and had to bow out. Eeek. We hate those kinds of phone calls. You feel SO bad for the person on the other end of the line – your heart goes out to them – and at the same time your heart starts pumping wildly in your chest because you know you’ve built your whole film concept around casting them.
I met Jeanne at the #140 Conference in NYC last Summer. It’s a fabulous conference curated by the amazing Jeff Pulver. I say “curated” because that’s his word. He’s the producer of the conference which is a gathering of people from all over the world, all walks of life, who come and give a speech about how they use social media in their work and in their lives. Pulver hand-picks everyone who speaks. Last year there was Ann Curry, Mayor Cory Booker, Deepak Chopra….and me! It was my first speech ever and I was so excited and so friggin’ nervous! Here it is if you want to see it. My main goal was to try to stay in my body, not hide behind the podium, and walk to the center of the stage and just tell my story. My friends tell me I accomplished all three of these things! (big thanks to my coach, Jeffrey Marcus!)
Anyway, back to Jeanne. We met at the conference and became Twitter buddies. It’s an odd relationship in that we don’t really know each other, but if you’re a avid Twitterer you can follow a person’s life and see how they think by what they’re talking about. Jeanne is a writer and was working out of her “Panera office” (that’s what she calls it) on a cold and rainy day when she noticed a young couple start to have a fight. They took it outside in the parking lot and she couldn’t hear them and all she could see was their body language. So what does a good little Twitterer do? She tweeted the whole fight. She gave a play-by-playof the whole thing as she imagined what they were saying to each other. By the end of the whole exchange she had a spark of an idea. She immediately started writing what became a short film called IMPASSE – inspired by the scene she had witnessed in the parking lot. Then she set about finding a director and called her friend Michael Bekemeyer. Using Kickstarter, they raised $15,680 (their goal was $12,500!!) and got all their ducks in a row to shoot it in Orlando, Florida. They even cast the film using their social media connections and Twitter buddies. John T. Woods and Wonder Russell are starring.
Cut back to me in bed trying to watch the Tonys with my iPad blowing up with emails. Jeanne pleaded, “Is it possible at all to get your help casting the role of Alice? I’m happy to pay you for your services. I’m in a bit of a pickle. We’ll lose thousands of dollars if we have to delay the shoot.”
Of course I’ll help! I immediately read her wonderful script and thought of my friend, actress Jennifer Fontaine. We met a couple of years ago on Facebook. As you can imagine, as a casting director, I get hit on by actors every day. Since I like to keep my private life private, I divert them to my “like” page (which was called a “fan” page when I first set it up! I’m sure they’ll be calling it something else next month!). The conversation went like this after the friend request came in:
Me: ?? Sorry, do I know you?
Jennifer: err…no. I was hoping to introduce you to me . I’m an actor and filmmaker and was just trying to add strong female role models to my network. The work you do inspires me to continue and I hope to do the same for someone else down the road. Have a great night! sincerely, Jennifer Fontaine
Me: You had me at “strong female role models!!”
So I checked out her site and indeed she was a talented filmmaker and actress so I clicked “accept”. We’ve almost worked together a couple of times – but not quite – until now! Jen was the first person I thought of for this role. As this is a short film with a very low budget (read= almost non-existent but not quite Monopoly money) I knew I couldn’t go through the normal channels and go through my star list to come up with a viable choice. Not to say that Jen hasn’t done her fair share of great work, believe me she has, but I knew it would take a very special actress to leave her husband and toddler at home to go off and do a short film across the country.
I sent off the link to her reel to Jeanne and crossed my fingers. I’ve been in this position hundreds of times when I think I’ve got the perfect person for a role, and the producer and director have me start the great Easter Egg Hunt From Hell and see hundreds of people – and then we come back to the actor I was touting two months earlier….only to find they’ve are unavailable by the time we circle back around! This time I got almost an immediate response that Jeanne loves Jen and will send the link on to her director Bekemeyer. I suggested that if they are both interested they can Skype with her on Monday morning and they can all get a feel as to whether they’re on the same page. In the meantime, I sent an email to Jen to see if she’s even available! No sense getting everyone all hot and bothered if she’s off on a vacation! That was around 10pm. I figured she’d check her email and get back to me. I kept checking throughout the night until I finally went to bed. During the night I start thinking of back-ups for our back-up!
Next morning I hear from Jen that she’s available and interested. They have a Skype meeting and everybody’s happy and they’re off to the races.
Mind you – all this happened while I was in bed with my iPad trying to watch the Tonys. Thanks to my boyfriend, TiVo, it’s all recorded and I can go back today and actually watch it for real!
Here’s Jeanne’s blog about the status of IMPASSE along with Wonder Russell’s brave journey.
We wish them all kinds of love and strength.
I welcome your comments.
Glad you’re here – Marci