Having been in the industry for a number of years I got to know a few people. I would spend a lot of my time on the phone organising stuff to make films. If I needed something done or a person, it was just a phone call away. When we moved here I was a stranger in a strange but beautiful country. The cultural differences were vast and I needed to adjust quickly. If I am honest, I am still adjusting. Not having those contacts and the right phone numbers to hand is a little weird. I have had to start all over again. Only problem is, the industry is so small here that some people don't like to give out their contacts. They have a system and it works well for them, why should they give out something they have spent years building? Well, as I see it, why wouldn't you? Bottom line is that it would be good for the industry to pull together in one direction. Why not help others grow and succeed? Surely it would mean the more people make films, the more exposure Sri Lanka gets and other production companies might start looking to the country as a film location?
The casting took place at the beginning of the week. It was a great space called 'Royal Nelung Arts Centre'. They even set up a waiting area for session. I did some advertising, Facebook'ed, blogged and did all the other social media twittering, even did a couple of radio and TV interviews promoting the film and casting sessions. Guess what? People turned up! It wasn't as many as I had hoped but the ones that came were great. The positive side of it was that I know or had seen most of them in some performance so I knew a little about what they had.
Let me explain something. There isn't a casting agency, as such, in Colombo or anywhere else in Sri Lanka, that I know of. Which means you have to rely on speaking to people and hope they put the word out. Being an actor is tough wherever you come from in the World. Here in Sri Lanka it isn't really seen as a career, more of a hobby. The money isn't being spent in film making so it's really tough to earn a living so they haven't got an agent busting their balls telling them to, 'get to that audition'. I also had to think about what time would be best and a location. I am aware of a few nuances when it comes to Sri Lankans. First, time keeping is not high up on the list of priorities, so I timed the session for 3 hours and turn up when you can basis. Second, people aren't not too keen on traveling outside of Colombo, even the outskirts and the third thing, if it's raining, forget about it. So the only thing I couldn't control was the weather.
The first person turned up within the first half and hour. So had a brief chat and off we went. I was wondering how good my understanding and explanation might be of what I wanted to see. It really helped that I wrote the story too as that made things very easy. Everyone that did come took direction well.
I feel that casting is very important, even at this stage. I will take as long as I need to find the right people as I do not want to walk on set and start filming and then run into problems with a performance. Each character of my film doesn't so much have a character arch but more of a triangle. They will all have to go through extreme emotions in a short space of time. If you can't get a performance right then you might as well start applying the production hand brake. If it is a technical problem holding up filming then you can find a solution by putting your heads together and solving it. If an actor can't get into that space then it could take any amount of time to help them get there. I have only seen it a couple of times and it can get quite delicate.
I could cast the film with the people I've seen already but I'm going to have another casting session. Now the casting is over I am starting to get phone calls from people who want to try out for a role. So, round 2 very soon.