Making a Movie!
So I know I haven't been writing blogs for a bit, but it's for a good reason! Brant and I wrote a script, sold it and we've been in Michigan shooting for most of March.
It was such a wonderful and eye-opening experience working on all sides of the project. Brant and I not only wrote it, but we also starred in the film and co-produced. Because we sold the project to a studio, they assigned us a director and producers. We were lucky to have been assigned the amazing Brian Herzlinger to direct and Danny Roth to produce. I had actually met Danny in Oceanside when I was working on one of my first films, To Save a Life, a decade ago. One of my best friends, Galadriel Stineman, had worked with Brian on another film and had nothing but amazing things to say! Our script is a comedy, so we wanted to find a director with a great sense of humor. Before we met him, we watched Brian's film, My Date with Drew, and knew he would get the humor.
Casting was a very interesting experience for us, especially as actors. Brant and I were attached from the beginning and for the first time ever, the studio asked me which role I preferred to play! There are two strong female leads in our script. I went back and forth but ultimately ended up playing the role of Lacy, which is the role we originally wrote for me. Ultimately, final say in casting was up to the studio.
There are some things in the casting process that I would have done differently, simply because I've had experience as an actor and I know what annoys me when I get auditions, but that ultimately wasn't our job. They accepted tons of video auditions and we got to sit in on the producers sessions. It was such a great learning experience to see what popped when different actors came in to read for us. Also, there were SO MANY talented actors that came through! It was a bit disheartening as an actor when the studio decided to cast some actors they'd worked with before without reading them, knowing how many people had spent so much time working on the script and wowing us in person and on tape.
We were a little nervous to have actors get cast without auditioning, but we were pleased when we got on set and everyone was very talented and brought great ideas to the characters! Lana McKissack plays my sister and it was a challenge finding someone who not only looks like me, but is great with comedy! So we were very happy they found her. The director's daughter, Cleary Herzlinger, was perfect in her adorable role and it was a blast from the past having my To Save a Life costar, Randy Wayne and Brant's PLL costar Ryan Merriman on set. Anyone else have a crush on Ryan in Luck of the Irish as a kid?
The biggest challenge shooting was the weather. IT WAS COLD. We literally shot scenes in 9°F with snow and wind. We all had frozen toes and cold faces. There were a couple of times where it was so cold that my mouth went numb and I couldn't say my lines. Thank goodness for the PA's who brought me hot water to warm me up and the amazing, Lisa Alfelt who would change our foot warmers and rub our toes to bring back circulation! Everyone on set took such good care of us. Then it warmed up a bit and rained and made all the snow disappear, which then required some rewrites to bring scenes indoors during the rain, and change a scene where they were supposed to build a snowman. Despite the elemental challenges, it was such a blast to shoot and everyone brought their a-game, from the actors, to the art department, to the DP, AD's and Director, to the hundreds of Michigan residents who volunteered as background! It was so amazing to see all of our ideas come to life!