Auditions finished, deliberations start for BAI-funded film

“It was a long, long process, but it was definitely worthwhile,” said Declan after a weekend of face-to-face auditions that will result in the final cast being chosen for the film maker’s BAI funded short “Location, location, location!” (working title).

The ‘process’, to which he was referring was the casting of the film on the social media platform ‘TikTok’, rather than through usual casting channels. Declan opened applications to professional actors and outright amateurs alike when he announced that he was casting for the film at the end of July, 2022.

“To be honest, I totally underestimated the response,” the film maker admitted. “I had been dabbling with TikTok as a way of reaching out to a whole demographic that are not ‘in the loop’ when it comes to the film industry or, for that matter, to traditional means of communicating. I’d seen how song writers, creating music in their bedrooms at home, could suddenly have a hit on social media without going through the channels of record companies or reality tv shows, and it struck me that social media could also provide opportunities for creative people with no agents or track record but with natural ability and passion. It turns out that I was right!”

Over 5,500 people applied to be in the film which has about 15 speaking roles.

“It was a bit overwhelming,” Declan admitted. “I had to set up a Google form to automatically process the applications so we could get some sort of grip on it. When we’d sorted people out for auditions, the numbers were still in the three-digits, so we held those, initially, on Zoom.”

Online auditions was just one more groundbreaking initiative in a project that has been anything but orthodox.

“The film is a short that raises points about social equity, multiculturalism and gender equality,” Declan explained, “and it will be accompanied by a 30-minute documentary where the stakeholders get a chance to explain the reality behind the drama. That was something that I found to be missing when I made my short, “Whatever Turns You On” about homelessness. I’d be at a festival talking to audiences who had just seen the film and they were asking questions about homelessness that I wasn’t expert enough to answer. It was a real opportunity missed. So this time I wanted to have those answers covered by experts so that the film not only made people think, but gave them the information to act.”

The final auditions, held mainly at Bow Street Acting Academy in Dublin’s Smithfield, saw less than 30 people, from that original 5,500, try out for the roles. It is expected that the cast will be announced next weekend.

“It’s really tough,” admitted Declan. “Those who made it through such a process are, as you can imagine, incredibly talented. I had hoped that the very best would stand out and make the job of choosing easy – but at this stage, they are all the very best. It’s going to come down to the dynamics that we think will be there between one actor and another in the scene, I think.”

As the film was cast on TikTok, the platform is Declan’s first port of call for announcements. His TikTok profile is @DeclanCreative.