An Observation Concerning Casting

For years one of the most difficult problems in working underground or independently is in the casting.  If one is to hold a casting call, no matter where it is advertized, one is guaranteed to be inundated by amateur actors and a mob of local thespians.  These actors are rarely what the production requires and to compromise in the realm of casting is to forfeit a good deal of the films fictional potency.  Thus, most filmmakers working underground will assemble around themselves a large repertory group of actors.  Typically these actors are, for lack of a better word, “discovered” at parties, film screenings, and small theatre exhibitions.  Such was the case for Warhol, the Kuchar Brothers, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Richard Kern, Jack Smith, John Cassavetes, Paul Morrissey, etc.

Miraculously, working in such a manner in regards to casting allows an intimacy and immediacy in the director’s relationship with his stars.  The trust and vulnerability in these relationships permit the performer to take risks comfortably, and at a pace that does not slow the low budget production.  So it becomes almost essential to a filmmaker working underground to operate along such lines.  Ironically, working this way has more in common with the tactics of silent film era casting than it does with the tactics of modern Hollywood, which in some cases plays further into the fetishism of underground film.

-Robert Curry

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