|StarNow:||How did you get your start in the casting industry?|
|Brinkley:||Back in 2004, I had just returned to my hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana after living and working in Washington, D.C. Upon my return, I went to visit my little brother, Beau, on campus since it was his first year at college (at Louisiana State University). We were walking across campus when I noticed a huge tent with signs advertising, “Open Casting Call for the Warner Bros. Feature Film, “Dukes of Hazzard” Starring Jessica Simpson!”|
My interest was immediately peaked because this was also the year Jessica Simpson was at the top of her game with both her music and television show, “Newlyweds.” My little brother and I had to know what was going on, so we walked over to the tent. I noticed one of my friends, Lisa, working under it and immediately asked her what she was doing? She said she was casting the background for “Dukes of Hazzard,” which would be filming in Baton Rouge for several months.
I thought this was very interesting since nothing like this had ever occurred in our small town of Baton Rouge. Lisa knew I had just moved back from D.C. and asked me if I had a job. I immediately said, “No!” She said she was looking to hire an assistant the following week, and knowing my personality and hard work ethic, she wanted me to send her a resume. I did exactly this, and a week later I found myself in the “Dukes of Hazzard” production office as Assistant to the Background Casting Director! I was on cloud nine, had no idea what I had just gotten myself into, but did not care…it was a new experience and I was extremely open to it!
From this experience, I fell madly in love with the art of casting and knew this was my calling. I went on to cast several more projects with this company and then in 2005/2006, I was offered to go to Shreveport to cast “Blonde Ambition,” starring Jessica Simpson (again).
This was only a few months after Hurricane Katrina devastated our state so all projects that were filming in the Southern portion of the state (Baton Rouge and New Orleans) had to relocate to the northern part of Louisiana (Shreveport) to salvage their productions and still receive the Louisiana tax credits our state was giving them. Therefore, I found myself moving “up North” too.
Upon arrival in Shreveport, I met for the first time with the producer who had hired me. At our meeting, he went on to offer me not only background casting, but also the local roles and Los Angeles roles!! I was blown away with his offer and could not believe my ears! I knew I always eventually wanted to get into “speaking” roles, but to have it all offered to me at once (including the Los Angeles roles), I had to ask him to repeat himself!
I was honest with him and told him as honored as I was to receive this gratious offer, I did not feel like I was ready to take on such a huge responsibility. At this time, I was not trained at all in casting speaking roles. This producer, the guardian angel that he was, simply said, “Brinkley, no worries, I will take you under my wing and train you every step of the way.” I had chills go down my spine. Opportunities like this did not EVER happen in this industry! I did not think twice about it after that, I accepted the job and literally dove into the deep end of casting!
I had the time of my life learning about the auditioning process of a movie, how to distinguish what truly amazing talent was made of, meeting and establishing relationships with Southern Agents and California Agents/Managers, negotiating deals, doing contracts, etc. It was an experience that taught me pretty much everything I know to this day about casting speaking roles. A moment in time I will forever be grateful for and never forget!
After this incredible experience, the same producer went on to offer me project after project after project to cast for him. These projects were also going to be filmed in Shreveport, so my six weeks stay in Shreveport turned quickly into 2.5 years!
During this period in Shreveport, which was often referred to as the “Hollywood South Gold Rush,” I started my own company, BAM Casting, LLC (my initials ;), specializing in Local Casting and Background Casting. I was truly blessed to be given so many once in a lifetime opportunities and work with some of the most reknown directors and actors in the world! Oliver Stone and Renny Harlin have to be a couple of my all time favorite directors, and Katie Holmes and Sean William Scott are my fav actors!
After casting for 2.5 years in Shreveport, last summer I had to comec back to my hometown of Baton Rouge. Hurricane Gustav hit our neighborhood hard and injured my father. I needed to spend some time with my family and take a break for a few months from the hustle and bustle, nonstop work of Hollywood.
After the dust settled from the hurricane and my father recovered from his injury is right around the same time the producer of “True Blood” called me. He told me they were coming to Baton Rouge to shoot several episodes of Season 2 (including the season finale!) and needed a local and background casting director. I flew out to L.A. to meet him and before I left the studio he was introducing me to everyone as their “Louisiana Casting Director.” I was honored to say the very least!
We just wrapped up filming here in Baton Rouge and it was one of the most fun sets I have worked on! The writers actually established Clinton, Louisiana (a small town near Baton Rouge) as the new “Bon Temps,” so “True Blood” will be coming back here several more times in the new year to film Season 3. We are thrilled! I cannot wait for their return in 2010!
|StarNow:||What has been the most interesting project you have cast for and why?|
|Brinkley:||Gosh, this is a toughy! I have worked on SO many amazing projects it is hard to chose just one! But I guess if I had to narrow it down, the most interesting project I have cast is Oliver Stone’s “W.” ……Oh, and Renny Harlin’s “Cleaner” (sorry have to talk about two of them!)|
These were the most interesting projects I have cast because of the similar “inaccurate/preconceived notions” both Oliver Stone and Renny Harlin had of our southern talent when they first arrived to Louisiana.
If a director or producer has never been to Louisiana before, much less filmed a movie here, they often have trepidation and anxiety over finding local talent that can measure up to the standard of acting of their L.A. talent. I have to admit, though, if I were them, I would probably do the same thing! These movies are their babies, their pride and joy, stories that they have often worked on for years to get to this final stage of leaping off the script page to the silver screen! To know they are coming into completely foreign Cajun territory, I might be a little worried at first glance, too.
Upon arriving to film their movies in Louisiana, both directors Harlin and Stone expressed to me their concerns regarding the level of acting our local talent possessed. Harlin came to Shreveport in 2007 to film “Cleaner,” and Stone set up shop in Shreveport in 2008 to film, “W.”
In my first meetings with them, similar stories occurred.
Both Harlin and Stone wanted to see headshots and resumes for the roles they had in mind that would be cast out of Louisiana. My partner and I brought files and files of actors’ headshots to show them, but stressed to them to please refrain from making any remarks until they saw the talent live and in person. They did just this, and after our first round of auditions, both Harlin and Stone had equal reactions.
With a shocked looked on his face, Renny sat back in his chair and said in his Finnish accent, “I saw 10 to 15 A-List actors in L.A. for some of these roles, and I think I just cast my entire movie here in this one session with you.” Similarily, Oliver turned to me and said, “Where did you find some of this talent? They are terrific and actually have a ‘life’ besides focusing on acting 24-7.”
To say the least, to hear these words of praise about our talent from two of the most honored professionals in the film industry was very humbling. Even more so, though, it was encouraging and motivating for me to continue to fight for my Louisiana talent and the incredible levels of talent they possess, which needs to be shared with us (and Hollywood) on the silver screen!
So now I say to all of the Southern actors out there, you have Oliver Stone’s and Renny Harlin’s stamp of approval: Keep up the good work and don’t give up!
|StarNow:||How does the casting process work for extras on a TV show? Does this process differ from casting for film extras?|
|Brinkley:||No, the process really does not differ that much when casting extras for a tv show vs. a movie. We procede the same way in finding our background artists.|
We start off by meeting with the director, 1st AD, and 2nd AD and go through the script page by page breaking it down to really find out exactly what the director is seeking in his “atmosphere.” I want to make sure we deliver to him exactly what he is looking for….whether you believe it or not, the background can seriously make or break a scene.
After we finish this step, we hold an open casting call in the area we are filming and sign up hundreds and hundreds of people wanting to participate as extras. For those not in the immediate area, we create a flyer and press release to blast out everywhere, stating the types of background we are looking to cast. Those interested can email, mail, or drop off their info to us.
As for the more featured roles, stand-ins, and photo doubles that we cast, we often hold auditions for these roles and the director/AD’s make the final call on who is chosen.
That pretty much sums up the casting process for extras…oh and once we wrap a project, we file away all of the applications we received and use them time and time again for our future projects.