Aspen Shorts Fest Program 10 Q&A: Casting [18+]

By: Lily Milos

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Uploaded on April 16, 2012 by Lily Milos Powered by YouTube

The Producer of The North London Book of the Dead talks about Dan Stevens in the role of the Speaker. Writer Director Mark Gill and Writer/Producer Baldwin Li discuss casting for their film, The Voorman Problem. Transcript below: Producer of The North London Book of the Dead about Dan Stevens: [Dan Stevens played] the speaker, which may be familiar to viewers of Downton Abbey. Basically, he was friendly with our line producer, saw the script lying around his house, and begged to be a part of it because he did his thesis at university on Will Self. [He] was desperate to get out of breeches, wear some contemporary clothing, and say normal lines. So he was also a dream to work with as well. Mark Gill: We had just developed the script and we were getting a lot of great feedback on the script. Baldwin amazingly got private investment for it and which point we decided, "Well, who should we go for?" And we just created a list of actors; it was just a drunken conversation one night. We said, "Let's send it to Kevin Spacey." So we did. He's the creative director at the Old Vic. Baldwin LI: About three days later (it was amazing that the package got there so quickly). His assistant rang me up and said, "Kevin really likes your script, but he's quite a busy man. He can't do it, but he's got some recommendations for you. Try to get Tom Hollander." He's a fantastic British actor. [...] I had a contact through my old tutor who had used him for a charity reading. We managed to get the script directly to his email, so no agents or guardians at the gate. About a week later he rang me up and said he'd do it. Basically that was it. He loved the script and he'd do it. And obviously at that point I said, "Well, we can't really pay you anything." And he said, "It doesn't matter." [...] Actors want to work on great scripts. Mark Gill: He was all about the script, really. And then Tom phoned me and said, "Who are you thinking about getting for the doctor? These are my friends: Colin Firth, Bill Nighy..." And I was going, "Oh my God!" And right at the bottom he said, "Martin Freeman." And I went, "That's really interesting. Do you know him?" And he went, "No, but I'd really like to work with him." Then Tom phoned Martin's agent for us. We're from Manchester; we're not even from London. We just did it because no one told us we couldn't. It's as simple as that. We just dreamt it up and did it, and that was it. Eighty percent of my work as a director was done. I knew the script was good, and I had these great actors; my job was just not to cock it up. Did you have trouble keeping the tone consistent? Mark Gill: No, that's something I clearly talked to the guys about. When we were looking at cast, we didn't want comedy actors. We wanted to keep it very human and very real and just let the script do the work. Because I'm a new short filmmaker, I didn't want it to be a calling card. I just want it not to get in the way of the story, and not to get in the way of the characters or the actors. That's why I kept everything really simple. Of course, we only had three days and practically everything I shot is onscreen. There's very little on the cutting room floor. It was a conscious decision to play it as straight as possible.
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Art & Animation
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