Your new webseries Casting Directors - Season 2 - in a few
words, what's it going to be about?
a mockumentary that looks at the casting industry, and the quirky and
sometimes morally corrupt people who oversee it. This season focuses
on gender and race, and the skewed politics that limit opportunities for
talented females and ethnic minorities. Although the message is very
serious, the series is a comedy and satirises the ignorance of those who
give rise to the 'casting couch' reputation, as well as the larger than
life characters who pass through casting rooms.
What were your
sources of inspiration when writing Casting Directors? And is any
of it based on actual experiences of yours or industry rumours?
asked to write the episodes around the time that the various stories of
abuse in the film industry were coming to light. The narrative
hadn't been mapped out at that stage but it felt vital that we addressed
these issues and highlighted the toxic attitudes that allowed such abuse
of power and discrimination to go unpunished for so long.
creator of the show, Anthony Vander [Anthony Vander
interview - click here], plays an actor/writer/director
called Simba Slays, who is growing increasingly frustrated at the lack
of opportunities in the UK for black actors, which is highlighted by the
decision of many young black actors to showcase their talent in the US.
Anthony shared with me his experiences, which were then incorporated
into the script.
of the humour, my main sources of inspiration were The Office
did you become the writer of the second season of Casting Directors,
and were you at all involved with the first one?
I have a close working relationship with Anthony, who gave me my first
writing gig when I was still at university. We work very well
together, so when he asked me to write the second season of Casting Directors,
it was a no-brainer. I had watched the first season
as an audience member and was very impressed – it had great characters,
relatable humour and an earnest core. I was going to approach
Anthony with ideas for Season 2 before he asked me to get on board,
extent will the new episodes of Casting Directors be a continuation
from the previous season, and what do you think are the major differences?
mentioned earlier, Simba Slays is returning, a year on from his failed
project in Season 1, slightly embittered and angry at the industry.
Man-child Billy Spencer, who was second in command at the agency in the
first season, is now the boss, who is not best equipped for his sudden
promotion. Aside from Simba and Billy, though, we have all new
characters, including corporate hotshots, seedy producers, adult
entertainers and egos galore.
the main difference in this season is the introduction of more conflict,
as the characters' motivations become more apparent, with Billy's
oft-overlooked assistant Grace and Simba standing up to the system.
talk about Casting Directors' brand of humour for a bit!
had a great base for the humour, due to the writing in Season 1 giving me
an instant feel for the characters. The humour is often ironic and
satirical, with a lot of cringeworthy scenarios and foot-in-mouth moments.
My main goal was to prompt uncomfortable laughter.
can you tell us about Casting Directors' director and creator
Anthony Vander [Anthony Vander
interview - click here], and what's your collaboration like?
man is prolific. Our first collaboration was Sweetboy,
which he produced (self-funded), directed and starred in. He is
constantly finding ways to get the stories we want to tell out there and I
don't doubt that he is sitting on many, many ideas, waiting for the right
timing. He is great to collaborate with, as we have similar
ambitions, influences and visions. He is very patient and if our
respective visions don't always line up, we talk through the situation in
detail until we find common ground. I am very grateful to him, as he
gave me an opportunity when I was desparate for experience. I didn't
have any feature-length screenplays under my belt and I was still a couple
of months from graduating. He liked my treatment of his concept and
I hope I repaid his faith. It's great to work with someone who has
directed, written for stage and screen, acted in diverse roles and
produced multiple projects, all with aplomb. He can give me insight
into how actors receive scripts, which was invaluable in our second
as it is very much a character-driven project. He is a great mentor
and friend, and I relish every opportunity to work with him.
talk about Casting Directors Season 2's cast, and have you written
the script with these people in mind?
are fortunate enough to have an incredibly gifted comedic cast, who were
able to balance the farcical and humanistic elements of each role.
It was very useful having Billy and Simba already cast from Season 1, as I
had a solid foundation to work from. The role of Grace was written
with the very talented actress Mavin Rasheed in mind; however, the other
roles were cast after the script was finalised. Kamal Simpson, who
starred in Scales,
came on board, when we learned of his experience in various forms of
comedy acting, despite the tone being far removed from his character in Scales.
It was great to see his versatility.
$64-question of course, where can Casting Directors be seen?
1 - The Bonking Bobby:
2 - Make It Sexy:
3 - The Blagger:
Episode 4 -
The Illusion of Inclusion:
future projects you'd like to share?
mentioned, I recently worked with Anthony again as writer and producer
our second feature film together. It was my first time producing,
which was a massive learning curve in and of itself, but a great
experience. The project is currently in post-production and we are
incredibly excited with what we have created, along with our fantastic
director, Nathan Hannawin.
from that, I have been working on scripts for a couple of short films,
which I keep returning to and tinkering with, and I am in the early
stages of writing Season 3 of Casting Directors.
What got you into
scriptwriting in the first place, and did you receive any formal training
on the subject?
has been my passion since primary school and became a massive factor in
my education, culminating in me studying Film and English at University
of Southampton. In third year, I was able to select modules in
writing novels and screenwriting, which introduced me to the intricacies
of storytelling, giving me a structure for my creativity. I was
taught the theories and models of Christopher Vogler, Blake Snyder and
Syd Field, which built my confidence and understanding of different
archetypes and pacing; though, I don't think screenwriting is as simple
as following a formula – just like in sport, you can't beat match
What can you tell us about your filmwork
prior to Casting Directors?
debut was 2014's Sweetboy,
which was screened at the BFI (British Film Institute), received its North
American premiere at the HBO-sponsored American Black Film Festival in New
York and aired on British TV on London Live multiple times in 2016 and
2017. Between Sweetboy
I wrote several scripts, which gave me me more confidence in my ability
and helped me to work on aspects of my writing. When I started
and then Casting Directors, I felt my writing carried much more conviction.
How would you
describe yourself as a writer?
Joe at the Scales scriptreading
writing to this point has been bleak and dark, but laced with humorous
outlets. I am a very light-hearted guy, so my writing style is
kind of at odds with my personality – I don't know if that's worrying
or healthy! It's better than being the other way round though, I
consider my main strength to be my dialogue, so my scripts tend to be
very much character-driven and intimate. I like to create morally
ambiguous shapeshifters of characters, as I enjoy blurring lines and
whoever else who inspire you?
the way Paul Thomas Anderson gives such unique voices to an incredibly
eclectic cast of characters across his body of work is remarkable and
something to aspire to. Robert Altman for the same reason. I
love Richard Linklater's humanity, Noah Baumbach's relatable humour,
David Lynch's build of dread, Yorgos Lanthimos' dark, dry humour, and
Jim Jarmusch's conciseness and love of loners.
Your favourite movies?
Godfather, It's a Wonderful Life, Dazed and Confused, The
Thin Red Line, Short Cuts, Marketa Lazarova.
and of course, films you really deplore?
pretty vocal in my dislike of the Marvel machine!
series' website, Facebook, whatever else?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
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you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
Directors on YouTube from March 22nd!
for the interview!