Monday, March 15, 2010
I've been asked many times about "casting" at the Pitch stage. That means, putting names to the characters, as in - "Who would you get to play this character?"
There are a few ways this can go - and a few reasons for it.
As a writer, I find it easier to write for a character when I can picture who is going to play the role. In many cases, you're writing for a character in which the actor has not been cast. While writing a few episodes for the live action show "Family Biz", I spoke with the Producer and said that I pictured the actor who played Noah Bennet - Claire's Dad (on Heroes) as the Dad on the Family Biz show. The Producer agreed that actor would be a good fit for the role - and I had my model for my writing. Obviously, they didn't hire "Noah Bennet" for the part, but it worked from the writers perspective.
Often in a Pitch Bible, the writer will put a "such as" actor into the bible. This usually reads "We'll get an actor such as 'Alec Baldwin' for the role of ED." This is fair - the bible isn't committing to Alec Baldwin - just using his persona to give a taste of how the role will be played.
The big danger in this is when you have two or three "such as" actors, suggested for a single role. Its even more dangerous when the "such as" actors' styles are completely opposite to one another. I saw a bible once where they suggested James Woods, Shia LaBeouf and Adam Sandler for the same role. Which one is it? This tells me that the writer doesn't have a handle on what the character is about.
What I often do is choose an actor (in my case, usually Gilbert Gottfried - because the whole human race sounds like Gilbert Gottfried), get his voice into my head - and then write for him.
In one case where I actually did write for Gilbert Gottfried, people (on hearing the finished voice tracks) commented on how great his improv skills were. Actually, every word of his monologue was scripted - by me. But the point is - if you have a character in mnd - even if you don't put the name down in your Pitch Bible - it helps to lift the writing off the page and make it real.