Wednesday, July 16, 2014


     “Sure you can attach me,” she says.  Now, if you do not work in film or television this attachment business might sound like a parasitic relationship; it is far from it.  Being able to mention recognizable actors who agree to play a role in your script is usually a game changer and I would add by saying the casting process is the most important part of producing any performance driven art form.  The best writing in the world could fall flat if it is put in the wrong actor's hands, but a talented, dedicated actor who is the right fit for a role can elevate any lofty script to even greater heights.  It is ultimately up to the actors to make the story believable, that is their craft, the seamless magic trick that never ceases to amaze an audience when it is done right.  I have witnessed this myself.  When I was behind the camera and watched actress Erin Nicole Cline cry on cue during the most dramatic scene in Cam-Girl; a thriller that I wrote and directed.

     There is a larger truth at work here; the first thing most distributors look at when they consider a film is which actors are in it.  Can we sell this movie?  That is a distributors primary concern and one of the easiest ways to achieve these results is by having the iconic face and legendary name of a known actor on the cover of a DVD case or movie poster.  All you need to do is browse the shelves of a retail store or look closely at the movie posters as you walk toward the box office of your local movie theater before you plunk down twelve dollars for your ticket.  These actors along with the title; become the brand of the movie.  In some ways we benefit from the power these stars have.  Do you think a film like Fight Club would have been made if Brad Pitt was not in it?  Whether independent filmmakers choose to except this or not, your casting choices carry a lot of weight.

     That is why when it came time to start casting actors for my Romantic Comedy spec script 30 Night Stand, I wanted to find an actor or two who was not only perfect for the part but also had some name recognition.  The lead role of Sheila seemed like the best place to start because it is the sort of complex and interesting character an actor would want to bring to life.

30 Night Stand is about a woman who is cunning enough to turn a one night affair into an opportunity to live with a man rent free.

So who did I seek out to attach to this screenplay?  I was able to get the script to Annika Marks through Sarah Okun; the make-up artist who worked with me on Cam-Girl.  Sarah knew Annika from another production and I am thankful for that because Annika not only agreed to play the part but also gave valuable notes on the script that improved the story.  It can sometimes be hard for writers to take notes but when you get truly valid suggestions as I did, that is the best part of having someone else read your work and giving their objective point of view.  They can sometimes show you something that was right in front of your face the whole time.  It is the job of the writer to take that observation and come up with a creative solution that adds to the characters and the story.  After a re-write the 30 Night Stand script is in great shape and Annika Marks said I could officially attach her to the production.  Annika Marks is best known for her roles in films such as The Sessions and Mona Lisa Smile.  The Sessions is a critically acclaimed film based on the true story of Mark O'Brien; a poet-journalist who seeks out a sex therapist to show what his body is capable of because he is paralyzed and confined to an iron lung since childhood.  Annika Marks won an Audience Award along with the rest of the cast when it screened at the Sundance Film Festival where it also earned a Special Jury Prize.  Helen Hunt was nominated for an Academy Award as best performance by an actress in a supporting role.  Even though Annika Marks's character was not the focus of The Sessions; she clearly made a lasting impression as her character.  Alexandria Symonds of Interview Magazine put it this way; “It's a credit to Marks, whose career to this point has mostly been in theater, that she's able to find the subtleties in her character: she portrays Amanda as a conflicted, whole human being even as she is Mark's fantasy.”

     Attaching Annika to this project was only the beginning; months later I was thinking about who could possibly play the Sister of Annika's character and then an idea hit me.  Annika Marks has worked on the short film Skypemare; which also starred Horror icon Cerina Vincent (Cabin Fever).  When I brought up the idea to Annika that Cerina would be great for it, she agreed and got me in touch with Cerina.  Now Cerina Vincent has joined the cast and I am feeling better than ever about the possibilities of 30 Night Stand and what lies ahead.     

     Filmmaking is all about getting those small victories, sometimes they are hard earned or just dumb luck but if you have enough of these come together you will end up with a great movie.  There are many more decisions that need to be made before we go into production; like casting an actor to play the male lead for instance, yet I am looking forward to it because of the endless possibilities they hold.

- Curt Wiser is a filmmaker, animator and author, his suspense novel Box Cutter Killer is published by Wheelman Press.   

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