See what I did with that title? Because this post is about casting! Big budget filmmakers would use a casting director--often someone that has an agency of associates working with them. For the zero budget filmmaker the casting director is you!
My first job was to find someone to play Slim. This performer had to fit several requirements 1) Be willing to wear an uncomfortable "fat" costume, 2) Be available for most scenes, and 3) Learn lines quickly. I searched and scoured my list of friends. Most could fit two of these requirements, but who would be around almost all the time? Me!!
That is the truth with casting for a zero budget film. Cast the people willing to do the job the way it is. I know the impressions of movies that star the director are of vain, ego-stroking projects. But that was not the case with me. I have very little confidence in my acting abilities. I simply knew that Slim would always be available if Slim were me. So next time you find an acting director, consider that maybe no one else was willing to take the role!
To Be Continued...
If I were able to travel back in time to early 2005, this is what I would have told my younger self. It is now what I would tell every beginning filmmaker that would listen. I was about 15 writing this Raiders of the Lost Ark parody and I had read a lot about filmmaking technique and watched tutorials, etc. However, it was years later that I really learned about crafting the screen story. I was confident with formatting the document. But the actual formatting does you no good if the story doesn't work in your head.
All dialogue was at least 16 point font. Anyone with any screenplay experience would ask "what is this guy thinking??" Because with the font so large, I could place the script at the amateur actor or actress' feet and he or she could glance down and read the lines when lost! I'm not kidding!
Around March of 2005, I remember saying to my script editor (aka Mom), that the story "just doesn't have IT". The problem was, I couldn't describe what "IT" was. But I had a production deadline--as a high school student I knew that all the filming had to be done during summer vacation.
Did I manage to complete the filming needed in just one summer? Of course not, because I didn't have a full script! I had about 25 scenes written, which is what I did film that summer. I will be sharing about that first summer of production in later posts. The years following were episodes of realizing that the story didn't make sense with what I had, so I would write more scenes and film some more, over and over.
If the reader takes any lesson away from this blog, it should be Don't Start Filming Before The Script Is Finished. I would have saved so much time and aggravation had I followed this rule.
To Be Continued...
Today's post is not about my attempt to get into real estate. Instead, it describes the first reason why a parody of Raiders of the Lost Ark would be impossible for me to film. I had a basic outline of the plot, simplified to just the bare bones. I was probably a couple months into figuring out plot ideas before it hit me--how was I going to recreate Egypt in Maine?
My first thought was to use a nice, sandy beach. Who would know the difference? In one background you would have the ocean and in other shots a parking lot! Needless to say, I quickly learned that would not work. It was then I discovered an attraction. The Desert of Maine! It is real--check it out! Apparently, decades of not rotating crops left the area with a true desert and it is now a tourist attraction. As fabulous as it is, it was still surrounded by classic Maine pine trees.
At this juncture, I knew the location would have to change. Around this time my cousin had done a crazy bike trek of South America. Ah! South America! Rainforests (trees), plains (grass), and mountains! Maine has all of these! So, I decided Indiana Slim would travel to South America.
With that in mind, I continued working on the story.
To Be Continued...
I began figuring out the characters for a Raiders of the Lost Ark parody. The main character was rather easy. Instead of an agile, handsome character, a parody would include a clumsy, overweight protagonist. The next character to come to life would be Indiana Slim's love interest. Instead of a name like Marion, this character's name had to be unattractive. This is where the name Snarion comes from. It almost causes you to cringe when you pronounce the name.
I am an extrovert and conversation with others helps to stimulate creative ideas. So when I was out of ideas, I turned to my trusty friends to help me with more details. I knew Indiana Slim had to have a companion--a straightman to play off the comic hero. That is when a friend suggested that he have a name completely opposite of Slim, "How about Tubba Lardo?" he proclaimed. I thought it was brilliant. Similar to Tubba's name, I knew that Slim's boss needed a name that was opposite to his frame. That is when I decided on the name Dr. Colossal.
The next group of characters needed to be the villains. Nazis are not funny. How was I to find a group familiar enough to audiences? That is when a friend suggested that Indiana Slim battle a group of strict schoolteaching nuns! I loved it! Of course, German sounding names still went with mysterious, wicked villains. Hans Wilhelm was the most German-sounding name I could think up. Oliver Sudden was a simple play on words. I found the name Varvara in a site of popular baby names, although the original would be pronounced VAR-var-a like Barbara. Another friend made up her ridiculously long last name.
With the characters in place, I thought the next step would be a simple cut and paste job. I would take the plot of Raiders of the Lost Ark and insert gags here and there. If only I had known how wrong I would become...
To Be Continued...
In July of 2004, I had finally completed STAR WRECK. I premiered it in August 2004. It was at this moment that I decided I wanted to continue with filmmaking. I had another showing of STAR WRECK in December 2004 and at this showing, I must have had about a dozen possible synopses I was considering. So I polled the viewers and they voted on the one I should pursue. Give the viewers what they want!
What the audience had selected was a direct parody of Raiders of the Lost Ark. I had called it Indiana Slim. It would follow the plot and characters of Raiders except Indiana Jones would be overweight. It was at the very end of 2004 that I began to draft characters and plot points for what would become SLIM.
Hi Everyone! This is where I will be sharing stories, tips, techniques, etc. about the making of SLIM. I will do my best to post often. If you have specific questions or want to know about certain details, please let me know in the comments!