CASTING: JUST LIKE COOKING

Casting and crewing a movie is the most challenging aspect of making a movie, and one that many directors and producers should reevaluate.  By casting and crewing your movie correctly, you can avoid having conflicts on the set, maintain a healthy atmosphere, and construct a positive environment in which everyone can thrive.

When I’m casting or crewing a movie, I think of it like cooking.  The movie is the dish we’re about to make, and each element that goes into making that dish becomes an ingredient.  Different locations, props, costumes, and people, each have their own unique color, flavor, energy, and thus each has a unique ingredient.  Like saffron, ginger, or cucumber.

I think it’s very important to make sure that all the ingredients work well together, both on screen and off.  If everyone enjoys being around each other, the atmosphere will be free of conflict.  And if any conflict arises, people who enjoy each other tend to handle conflict in a healthy, mature way.

So, think of people like food.  Try it.  Go on.

Pick someone you know and imagine what kind of ingredient would they be.  Are they volatile, or spicy, like, say, cayenne?  Are they sweet and rounded, and ordinary, like, say, a Granny Smith apple?  Would you pair them up together in the same recipe?  And if so, how would you do it?  Or, what other ingredients would be needed in order for the right balance to happen?  Or, if you picked the Granny Smith apple person, is there another contender who embodies an ingredient that might work better?

Sometimes this is very difficult to explain to other producers, actors, and directors.  Especially those who have been programmed into doing it the traditional way.  But, I’m telling you, this works.  It’s about understanding chemistry and really understanding a person.  It’s possible even to understand it, and use this information, without ever being in the same room with the person.  It’s also very handy tool to use when casting people together that need certain chemistry.

Some people use astrology in a similar way.  I understand that for the most part, people might not like this because it’s stereotyping.  Fitting everyone else into a box.  But, so long as it keeps working, I don’t care.  The goal is to cast and crew a movie, and to end up with a group of people who get along and shine on screen.

Even if a person is the best in their field, or the greatest performer, they might not be right for the particular dish we’re assembling.  It’s incredibly important to select the right combination of people to create the ideal environment off screen as much as on screen.  When people are living together in such close proximity to each other, and work and play morph together, it is imperative that each personality work well together—like creating the perfect recipe—each ingredient matters or could throw off the whole thing.

Would you rather be working for three weeks with a bunch of talented people who hate each other, or a bunch of talented people who enjoy each other?

In addition to taking a look at someone’s skills and talent, it’s also a good idea to look at how they see the world; interact with others, and how their unique ingredient might give flavor to the ultimate dish.

Ponder your own combinations.

Figs go well on their own, with fresh crisp foods, and even meat but I wouldn’t eat a bulb of garlic at the same time.  Some might, though.  That’s fine.

Got a fresh peach, or a plum, and a bossy steak?  Try them together, the fruit works surprisingly well on top of the steak.

Roasted beets taste like sweet corn, which is also great with arugula.  But I’d avoid pairing them up with gummy worms.

3 thoughts on “CASTING: JUST LIKE COOKING

  1. This is, by far, the funniest filmmaking tip you wrote! I laughed the whole way through. I surely never thought of casting and crewing like cooking but I understand the points you make here. Since I only know how to cook a few things and am not familiar with many ingredients, I wonder what type of effect that would have on my filmmaking…if I applied the same principles as making dishes in the kitchen. I suppose, just like baking for the first time, the results…whatever they may be…will come through trial and error. By the way: You now have me wanting to pop in my Once Upon a Time in Mexico, just to watch one of the special features – Robert Rodriguez’s cooking school segment. LOL

  2. I guess Susan Traylor and Jane Wiedlin just go well with everyone, I guess? Or they enjoying the $12.47 in royalities they make from your videomovvvvvies??

    • Thanks Mr. Fuck (I just assume you’re a guy), for this thoughtful question. While Susan and Jane are both incredible women, great actors and brilliant minds, the fact is, like anybody, they have certain ingredients that, when combined with other ingredients, might not work as well for the whole dish. As I mentioned in my article, one can be the greatest actor in the world, but that doesn’t mean they are exactly right for every particular movie. For instance, I’m working on a project with Susan now, but she didn’t appear in the 3 films I made after “Casserole Club” — “Culture Shock,” “Far Flung Star” and “Occupying Ed.” And, while Jane was in “Culture Shock,” she wasn’t in the other two. Yet, Pleasant Gehman and Garrett Swann were in all three. Although your second sentence is missing a verb, I think I know what you’re asking, and yes, I’m pretty sure everyone enjoys getting royalties. $12 may not seem like much for one check, but if one gets a few hundred $10-12 royalty checks a month, that’s great!

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