10 Questions with Michelle Metzner, the casting director for Gamers.
Michelle began her career as a casting assistant at MTV and was quickly tapped to cast one of MTV's highest-rated shows of all time: Becoming. After working for two years on the show, Michelle moved on to cast Big Brother 3 for CBS. Her next major project was the breakout show for the Oxygen Network: Girls Behaving Badly. Michelle then pursued her passion for finding talented actors for indie films. She has just finished casting her 9th film. Michelle Metzner is the Casting Director of CURRENTLY CASTING, Inc. and is a member of CSA (Casting Society of America).
1. Michelle, tell us about Gamers and how you got involved in the project.
I was called by one of the producers of Gamers for a meeting with Chris. We met at my favorite place, Starbucks, and the rest is history! I loved the concept of this film as I am a huge fan of documentaries and an even bigger one of mockumentaries. I knew that this film was a passion for Chris and I wanted to make it my goal to cast incredible actors so that this film really came alive.
I am the type of Casting Director that likes to take chances. I am always willing to make contact with a “name” actor to see if there is an interest in the script. I really believed in this film so I wanted to make sure that I gave each very unique role the best talent that it deserved. I am so happy that these extremely talented and very well known actors took a chance on this film. The hilarious and very well written script spoke for itself, there was not much convincing to be done on my part. John, Beverly, and William were in a film called, “First Love” almost thirty years ago, so I thought this would be a great opportunity for them to work together again.
3. Let's talk about the new, fresh talent you tapped for this movie? What type of actors were you looking for?
When casting a mockumentary, the most important thing is to cast actors who do not appear to be “acting”. I was looking for actors with heavy improv experience so that I knew they would be comfortable going “off book” or not reading the script word for word. Improv ability gives the actors freedom to really get into the character and sometimes the funniest lines come from the actor, not from the page. The actors that we did cast made such an impression during their audition. Each brought their own refreshing twist to the character and we knew it would only get better for the film.
4. How long does the casting process take? And how much time did you have for Gamers?
With Gamers, I knew that Chris wanted to move quickly. Therefore, I worked hard and fast. We put together a “wish list” of actors that we would go after and went from there. I had less than 2 months to put together a cast for Gamers.
5. Which character was the most difficult to cast?
I would say that the most difficult characters were the main characters, the best friends. I knew that Chris had a vision of each of these guys and it was my job to bring in actors that best fit this picture. Besides finding the right look, it was so important to find an actor that encompassed the essence of each character. Then, I had to make sure all the guys were able to interact with each other on a very close, very comfortable level, as if they had been friends for years.
6. Can you tell us about some of the famous people who turned down the movie and why?
Well, this question can also be worded as which agents turned down the movie. As the agents are the gatekeepers to their clients, there are many times in which a script never reaches an actor’s hands. Wouldn’t be a good idea for me to list all the names of actors though, this might be the first time they’ve ever even heard of the film, then the agent gets in trouble, then…
7. What advice can you give actors who perform at auditions?
Prepare!! Do not come into an audition without reading the script. If you really, really want a role, you have got to become the character! Be creative and really develop this character before coming to an audition. You have to realize that I see tons of actors for each role and if I am seeing the role being played the same way over and over and over…and then someone comes in with a new, fresh twist on the character, I am going to take notice!!
8. How important is it to get SAG actors in a movie? And do you think it helped out Gamers?
If this film was non-union we would not have had the option of casting all of the fabulous actors that we did. There are many non-union actors that are definitely talented but being a SAG film really opens the doors to the many very professional actors who take their career as an actor seriously.
9. What was your favorite character you got to cast in Gamers?
Wow, it would be hard to answer this question as every character is so quirky, fun, strange, and unique in their own way! I can’t wait to see this film. Then I’ll be able to make up my mind about my favorite.
10. If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, but not related to you or a religious figure, who would it be and why?
Judy Garland. She was my favorite actress growing up and I must have watched “Wizard of Oz” 300 times…I would love to have a conversation with her.