Wantin pre-production rehearsals
Fun and games ...
The time had come to kick off the rehearsals with the child actors selected for the Enigma Series Trilogy on screen adaptation sizzle reel. (Try saying that really fast three times!)
I wasn’t sure what to expect given that my only interaction with the appointed talent was during the casting auditions. This as you might be able to appreciate is a fast paced, jam packed day that doesn’t really allow for an opportunity to bond. It’s such a stressful environment where everyone is so focussed on the task at hand that it is definitely not conducive to allowing personalities to blossom.
Walking toward the meeting point I felt a sense of wonder about what magic might be in store for me to experience while working with Mariah Cini, Etienne Goessens and Alec Golinger. Children tend to be unpredictable and as much as people seem to find this challenging I gravitate toward the possibilities of what might manifest from their unrestrained tangents.
When I had began the journey of pulling together this production I had spent some time watching YouTube videos on actors auditioning for roles. If you haven’t seen Henry Thomas auditioning for a part in ET you are missing out. Its a must see in my books. There’s also a fabulous back story to the character development that blossomed from the audition series in Forest Gump. Look up Tom Hanks Forest Gump auditions to be amazed at the transformation of the character.
These audition examples are a lovely reminder that we may enter in with an idea of how things should look, feel and run but in essence if we remove the tendency to be rigid and prescriptive, then we allow for the possibility to leave with an even better version that adds depth to the character.
Knowing that I would be alternating between rehearsing various scenes, I had intentionally chosen a location that had a playground. Alec was the first to start bouncing around with excitement at the possibility of having some free time to play and was quickly trying to establish how long it would be before he was let loose on the swings.
When I mentioned to Etienne there might be a chance as part of a particular scene on the shoot day that he would be propped up in a tree, his eyes lit up. A wealth of knowledge spilt from him about the burls on trunks, what they were and how people cut them out to make fruit bowls. It was not only impressive that he even knew what a burl was but amusing to boot.
In the background sweet Mariah was settling down near the designated rehearsal area patiently waiting to start. There is something divine about this little lady that I can’t quite put my finger on yet. I’d met her by chance while I was doing the rounds as a stills photographer on the short film circuit. Although in the book Wantin (and the feature script) the character (young Talia) is six years old, I felt I needed to make an exception. Mariah to me in many ways is akin to young Talia.
You know that you have something special developing when the rehearsals begin to unfold the depth of a scene in a natural manner with a cast that have met for the very first time. Watching Tamiah Bantum work the scenes with Mariah and Alec while she executed her part as the nanny confirmed that all the hard work expended to find these talented people was well and truly worth it.
The role of the Haitian born nanny Marlee was yet another example where I entered into the casting with an image of what she was to look like. After cycling through a few auditions I began to suspect that I might struggle to fill this role. Then along came this young, beautiful, svelte woman. In the book Marlee is mid thirties, has two front teeth missing with a portly figure. Tamiah was captivating and her performance simply blew me away. In an instant I knew I had to let go of my rigid image of Marlee and award Tamiah the role.
I walked away from the first day of rehearsals feeling completely blessed that all these beautiful artists had entered my life. The dedication of the parents in supporting their children’s passion to act was equally inspiring. Watching the kids post rehearsals become fast friends, laughing, exchanging stories and genuinely enjoying each others company added an extra layer of satisfaction to the whole adventure.
Cherish every moment
– Truth Devour