Wantin Sizzle Reel – Childs Play
Childs Play - Fun & Games
Wantin Pre-production rehearsals
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 fast three times!)
I wasn't sure what to expect, given that my only interaction with the appointed talent was during the casting auditions. Casting, as you might be able to appreciate, is fast-paced, jam-packed days that don't allow for an opportunity to bond. It's such a stressful environment; the focus is on the task at hand that it is not conducive to allowing personalities to blossom.
Be open to change
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 begun the journey of pulling together this production, I spent some time watching YouTube videos of actors auditioning. The audition examples below are a lovely reminder that being flexible is a critical part of the creative process. In essence, when we remove the tendency to be rigid and authoritarian, we allow for the possibility to leave with an even better version that honors the character.
The showreel of Henry Thomas auditioning for a part in ET is 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.
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. The possibility of having some free time to play had him 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 spilled 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.
Trust your instincts
You know that you have something special developing when the rehearsals begin to unfold the depth of a scene spontaneously. Watching Tamiah Bantum enact her scenes as the nanny confirmed she was the right choice for the role. 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 another example where I entered the casting with an image of the appearance of the character. 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 aged mid-thirties, has two front teeth missing with a portly figure. Tamiah was captivating, and her performance 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 for acting was equally inspiring. It was a pleasure to see the child actors post rehearsals become fast friends. The children laughed and exchanged stories. Knowing the cast liked each other helps to add an extra layer of satisfaction to the adventure.
Cherish every moment
Photography & Article Written By Truth Devour