Aspiring actors get themselves listed for college film program
By Krista Harper
Ever wanted to be a star?
Over the weekend, dozens of aspiring actors signed up for the chance to act in various Thunder Bay film projects. The open casting call, run by members of Confederation College’s film production program, helps students and other area filmmakers connect with actors for their movies.
Contact information and a photo taken on-the-spot go in a casting book that serves as a reference for filmmakers looking for local talent.
While many experienced actors sign up, anybody who’s interested can be listed in the casting book, film student Jason Thacker explained.
“Generally, it’s people who are interested in becoming actors themselves,” he said.
“Sometimes, it’s just people who acted in the past or just want to have some fun.”
Mackenzie Milton was one of more than 60 people who showed up for the casting call at Intercity Shopping Centre.
“I did acting when I was younger, but I fell out of it when I got to school and decided to get back into it,” the engineering student said.
“There was a big film community in my hometown, even though it was a relatively small place, and that close-knit community was kinda nice to be in.’’
While growing up in Pembroke, Ont., Milton acted in two musicals and a play, so any calls that result from his page in the casting book will be his first forays into film.
“I just saw a poster and was like, 'hey, why not,' ” he said. “It actually took a little convincing to get me out the door on this one. Hopefully it works out for the better.”
Confederation College’s two-year film program attracts about 40 new students a year, and each year students make a total of 250 short films.
First-year student Justine Chalykoff, who just started the film program a couple of weeks ago, said that so far her classes and professors are “awesome.”
The Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., native said that while the film industry is booming in her hometown, she came to Thunder Bay to learn more about it.
“I wanted to stay up north, because I love the North. I came up here because I heard from a lot of people that it’s a really great program.”
While she’s never acted, Chalykoff said she might consider putting herself in the casting book — which many students do, since some are interested in participating on both sides of the camera.
Because some actors move away, change their appearance or lose interest, the casting book is updated about once a year.
Having a book full of casting options is useful for student filmmakers, Thacker said.
“It’s really handy for students, because if you’re looking for a particular type of actor, especially if you’re from out of town, you can find people for certain roles that wouldn’t be easy to cast otherwise,” he said.
Thacker’s classmate, Steven Rohre, said he’s gone to the book to find actors with the right look. It’s not always about acting chops, he said.
“(The casting book) basically helps out with finding certain types of people for your movies, like you could have a 70-year-old man that you need and a 10-year-old,” he said.
Yet, sometimes it’s nice to know where to find a few actors with professional experience.
“Some of the people in the book, they have acted for many years,” he said.
In bigger cities, acting agencies have similar casting books that might require a fee for use, Thacker said.
For people looking to break into the business, prior acting experience, like what people can get through the casting book, is key, he added.
“A lot of people who’ve acted in the short films that Confederation College has done have actually gone on to be pretty successful,” said Thacker.