Original article from https://johnaugust.com/casting
I’ve written a new movie that I’m planning to direct. It’s called The Shadows. It’s a thriller. The main character is a 15-year-old girl named Abby. She’s smart, resourceful and anxious. Her fight-or-flight instinct is always on. She has very little chill.
Abby is also blind. She’s been totally blind since birth.
I need to find a blind actress who can play this role. That could be tricky, because it’s not like there’s a list out there. So I’d love your help.
If you’re a teenage girl with blindness and a strong interest in acting, you can read the audition scenes and put yourself on tape. You don’t have to have acting experience, but you definitely need enthusiasm and authenticity.
If you’re anyone else, you can help by passing along this casting call to anyone you think might know an Abby. Friends, neighbors, teachers, your cousin on Facebook. My hunch is that the actress I’m looking for doesn’t think of herself as an actress, because she hasn’t had a lot of opportunities. This could be her chance, and I don’t want her to miss it. So please pass along this link.
Abby Larson is the central role in the story. She’s fifteen and in foster care. She reads a ton — both books and people’s motives. Her unstable childhood has left her wary. She doesn’t trust anyone but herself.
In terms of other movies, the best comparisons are probably Natalie Portman’s role in The Professional or Haley Joel Osment’s role in The Sixth Sense. It’s a challenging part, but one that could be spectacular with the right performer.
The role is written to be 15 years old. Not 10, not 20. She’s definitely a teenager.
She’s American. Any English-speaking person is welcome to audition. If accents become an issue, we’ll figure it out. Same for race and ethnicity. Please don’t assume you’re not who I’m looking for.
That said: this is a blind character. Sighted actors should not audition for this role. There are plenty of other parts for sighted actors, both in this movie and, well, all the other movies ever made.
If I can’t find the right actress to play Abby, the project won’t go forward.
Here’s the information in casting notice form:
Production Title: The Shadows (Thriller)
Producer: John August
Director: John August
Casting Director: TBD
Shoot Dates: Summer 2020
Location: Los Angeles, CA (likely)
ABBY (Lead – 13-17 – open ethnicity): Smart, resourceful and extremely anxious. Her fight-or-flight instinct is always on. Orphaned and living in foster care.
Other roles TBA.
Submissions: Submit headshot/photo along with audition (or link to audition) in body of the email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to audition
If you want to be considered for the role of Abby, you’ll need to send in an audition video. It’s really just performing your lines while someone (a friend, a parent, etc.) reads the other part off-camera.
This video shows some great British actors auditioning for various parts. It’s like that. Nothing fancy.
Those actors were taping in a casting office, but you’ll probably be doing this at home or school. That’s fine! Here’s a video with good advice on how to self-tape your audition.
- Acting is as much about listening as speaking. Really think about what it’s like to be in that space and that conversation.
- At the start of your video, tell me your name, how old you are if you’re under 18, and anything else you think I might like to know. (I need to know your age if you’re a minor because it affects how many hours you can work.)
- The two scenes are designed to show different aspects of Abby. Don’t be afraid to get loud on the second one.
- You can include multiple takes if you want, but it’s probably best just to send the ones you like best.
- Don’t worry about fancy equipment. The most important thing is that we can see your face and hear you clearly.
- You don’t need to use any particular app. Most people will their phone’s built-in camera app. It’s fine.
- If you have an agent or manager, include their information in the email. But it’s unlikely many folks will have one.
When you’ve recorded your audition, email it to email@example.com. Please include your name and any other information you think will be helpful. If you have a photo of yourself, send that too.
You can either include the video file in the email, or an online link to YouTube/Vimeo or the like. (You might want to choose “Private” or “Unlisted” if you don’t want other seeing it. It’s your call.)
The following are audition scenes. They’re similar to scenes in the final script, but they wouldn’t exist in this form in the actual movie (and there are no spoilers).
INT. LIVING ROOM – NIGHT
Abby and GINA (40s) are finishing bowls of ice cream. The TV is playing an episode of “Frasier.”
Do you watch this show, Abby? I love it.
I like it, too. They’re mostly just talking so it’s easy to figure out.
How big is the dog? On the show.
Moose? Moose is little.
(showing with hands)
He’s like this big.
(realizing that doesn’t help)
He’s the size of a cat.
I thought he’d be big.
Because his name is Moose.
I guess that’s the joke.
Yeah, he’s a little shit. I guess he’d be dead now.
An awkward pause. Why did she have to bring up death?
Tomorrow, what do you say we go shopping? Buy you some new clothes.
I don’t care about clothes.
You should! You’re pretty. You could be a model.
Are there blind models?
I dunno. Maybe? What do you want to be when you grow up?
An airline pilot.
You’re funny! No one told me you were funny.
Abby smiles a little. It’s the first time we’ve seen a glimmer of light in her.
EXT. PIER – NIGHT
ZEV (30s) is handcuffed to the railing. He watches as Abby cuts open a duct-taped envelope. She reaches inside, pulling out a bundle of hundred dollar bills. She can tell it’s money.
How much is this?
Ten thousand dollars.
Where did you get it?
Abby reaches back into the envelope, pulling out a cloth-wrapped bundle. Opens it to find a SILVER GUN.
Do you kill people?
Only when I have to.
Abby weighs a decision. Zev can tell what she’s considering —
We need that! These men are dangerous. You don’t know what you’re doing.
I know I’m not killing anyone.
Just listen to me! These men I work for, they are killers. They would think nothing of…
Abby lobs the gun in the ocean. With one PLUNK, it’s gone for good.
Zev can’t believe she actually did it. Who throws away a gun?
I should never have trusted you.
This isn’t trust! You need me!
You need me more! So stop lying to me!
You’re a stupid little girl.
Without me, you’ll never find her. I am the only one who can take you to her. So we’re going to do this my way.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: I am an actress that has severe vision issues but am not totally blind. I have been trained to use a cane. Am I someone you might consider for the part?
I’m searching for an actress who interacts with the world as a non-sighted person. It’s not simply what your eyes can or cannot see, but how the world perceives you. That’s the experience I need you to have — as much the emotional side of it as the practical skills. (Abby does use a cane.)
Abby’s blindness is not her defining characteristic; she’s stubborn and clever and distrusting. But her blindness is obvious to anyone who encounters her. So that’s probably a useful question to ask yourself: Would most people meeting you in person quickly notice that you’re blind?
If so — even if your blindness is not clinically total — please do send in a video. I’d rather cast the net a bit wider than miss out on a great candidate.
I’m 20. Am I too old to audition for Abby?
Actors in their 20s are routinely cast as teenagers. The gap between “real age” and “apparent age” is mysterious and subtle. So if you and people around you believe you could pass for 15, go ahead and send in a video.
I’m 12. Am I too young to audition for Abby?
Realistically, you’re probably too young to be cast as Abby. Because of (incredibly necessary!) rules about how many hours child actors can work, it may not be feasible to have someone that young in the role. That’s why I ask you to tell me how old you are if you’re under 18.
But if you want to send in a video audition, go for it.
Are there parts for other actors?
There will be, but that casting will happen later. At the moment, I’m only looking for Abbys.
Is there a casting director?
Not at the moment.
I know a young woman who might be right for this. Should I send you her name?
Reach out to her — or her parents — and send along this casting notice. If she’s interested, she should submit an audition.
Have you contacted [name of organization]?
We’re reaching out to dozens of local and national organizations that work with blind youth. But we may have missed some, so if you have a contact there, by all means send them this casting notice.
What’s the timeline? When will you cast Abby? When will you start filming?
My plan is to spend Fall 2019 looking for an Abby, in hopes of filming in summer 2020. That said, most movies don’t happen on schedule.
I have no strict deadline for audition videos, but sooner is definitely better than later.
If you have a question, email firstname.lastname@example.org