Wednesday, September 9, 2009

You can learn a lot about casting from my ex-girlfriend's pot roast.

I had a girlfriend once who wasn't much of a cook. One thing she made pretty well, though, was pot roast.

I love pot roast, so I asked her to teach me how to make it.

The first step was the one that threw me. "Start by cutting off the end of the roast," she said.

I asked her why, but all she could tell me was that that was how her mother taught her to make it. One day, she asked her mother about cutting off the end. "I don't know. That's the way your grandmother taught me how to make it," her mother said.

Fortunately, her grandmother was still around. So I asked her mother to ask her grandmother. The answer came back eventually. "We had a small pot. It was the only way to get the roast to fit."

I know what you're thinking. You're wondering what cutting off the end of the pot roast has to do with casting. Well, I'll tell you.

Everything.

Directing, like cooking, is 75% common sense. E
ven if you have no idea what you're doing, you (and by you I mean anybody who wants to) can direct something that's 75% good just by following the directions. Just as anybody can follow a recipe and turn out a perfectly good pot roast.

That's kind of reassuring, especially when you've just been handed $400,000 to make a commercial. Even more so when it's $40 million to make a movie.


But if you want to do something better than 75% good, you need two things. You need to practice. And you need to pay attention.

My girlfriend made lots of pot roasts, so she had plenty of practice. What she didn't do is pay attention. So her pot roast never got better. She never figured out what worked and why.

And that brings me to my casting tricks.

Over the next couple of weeks I'm going to be doling out techniques that I've come up with that help me find incredible casts. I didn't pick these up by watching somebody else work. I developed them on my own, over the years, through practice and paying attention. So before I tell them to you, I going to give you the following warning:

Think.

These tricks work for me. That doesn't mean they'll work for you. They probably will. But only only only if you understand why you're doing them.

Do I have to spell it out? Okay, I'm going to. Don't cut off the end of the roast just because you heard somebody say they do it that way. Even if it's me.

Go that?

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