Stars on the rise?
Sean Michael and Vincent Grashaw, director-producer and writer respectively of the coming-of-age independent film “Coldwater,” had a rather successful – though tiring – day Saturday.
They saw 1,325 prospective actors during an open casting call at the Holbrooke Hotel’s Garden Room from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
About 80 percent of those seen, Michael estimated, were from Nevada County, and the rest were from Marysville, Sacramento, Vacaville, Stockton, Lake Tahoe and Chico.
About 10 percent were professional actors; a few were actors Michael worked with when he grew up in Grass Valley in the 1970s.
For most of the day, the line snaked from the front of the Holbrooke on Main Street down Church Street to Richardson Street, ending at Auburn Street.
Michael, a 1981 Nevada Union High School graduate, wanted his directorial debut on a full-length feature film shot entirely in his hometown. The Los Angeles filmmaker also wanted to cast as many area residents as he could find, so he promoted Saturday’s casting call through The Union, Sacramento Bee, Auburn Journal and radio stations in Grass Valley, Sacramento and Yuba City.
At 8:45 a.m., 15 minutes before the casting call opened, more than 300 children and adults waited patiently in a rapidly expanding line. To
pass the time, individuals drank coffee, read books and chatted with strangers.
To avoid the long lines, several of the hopeful actors set their alarm clocks for Saturday’s wee hours.
Syd Brown was 11th in line.
She woke up early on a non-workday because her 11-year-old daughter, Hilary, and Hilary’s best friend just had to try out.
Hilary, a Seven Hills School sixth-grader, wanted to be there by 7 a.m.; she and her mother negotiated a 7:30 a.m. arrival.
“It was a little chilly that early. We brought a blanket and the girls played cards on the sidewalk,” said Brown, who last acted in high school.
Brown wasn’t keen on going through the casting call herself, but she filled out the prerequisite form, just in case her daughter talked her into it.
Hilary Brown was quite articulate about her goals.
“This is a great experience,” the sixth-grader said. “Not a lot of people get to try out or be in a movie. I’m sort of dreaming of it.”
Next in line was Nevada Union High School senior Peter Bevitori, also in line by 7:30 a.m. for the experience.
“I want to get started in film,” said Bevitori, who is in the advanced television production class and the teacher’s assistant at Nevada Union. He and a classmate, Adam Wallander, were recognized last year at the Teen Digital Reel Showcase Awards in Sacramento for “Thrash and Flash,” a three-minute video in the short story category.
“I hadn’t heard about (‘Coldwater’s’) roles, but I just want to get experience,” Bevitori said.
Further down the line was semi-retired Steve Davis, 59, from Auburn, whose only acting experience was in a radio play years ago.
“I’d like to get an acting part,” Davis said. “It would be a fun way to spend the month.”
While excitement was high among those waiting in line (most stood outdoors for one to three hours), excitement was even more evident once they were inside the Garden Room.
Those at the casting call talked about themselves for a minute or two before the camera.
After their casting calls, friends Ken Borras of Grass Valley and Ron Myers of Nevada City compared notes.
The two have acted in speaking roles during the past 20 years, and have been in the films “Survivor” and “Wallace.”
“I want this part for the fun, for the hobnobbing,” said Borras, 52, to which Myers, 46, added jokingly, “He wants it for the chicks.”
Myers, who has had his share of casting calls, had a special interest in this one: He wanted his son, Sid, 14, to try out.
“I’ve always told my friends I wanted to act,” said Sid Myers, a Silver Springs High School ninth-grader. “It looks fun, both acting and behind the scenes.”
Before leaving, Borras chuckled and yelled out to Myers, “See you on the set.”
Not everyone cared if they even received a part.
Steve Dryburgh was there just because the casting call was the thing to do on a beautiful Saturday morning.
“This is one of those fun quirky things that pop up in a small town,” Dryburgh, 44, explained. Entertainment is important to the retired Grass Valley resident; Dryburgh has ushered at Foothill Theatre Company for seven years so he can watch the plays, and he tried out for “Jeopardy” a few months ago.
H.A. Ambrosius, a Grass Valley Police Department volunteer, was there – not to audition, but to keep an eye on the bulging crowd.
“I’m just trying to keep people to the side of the street. Everything is orderly,” Ambrosius said. “We’ve had movie castings before, but nothing to this extent.”
Even Tofanelli’s Restaurant, a few feet across North Church Street, got into the act by selling about 250 cups of lemonade, water and soda at a makeshift stand alongside the building.
“People were thirsty,” said Craig Mason of Tofanelli’s. “It was hot and sweaty.”
By 5 p.m., both Michael and Grashaw were exhausted but pleased.
“We expected between 500 to 700 would show up, not 1,325. This is incredible,” Michael said.
Another 200 individuals were turned away because it was close to 5 p.m., and 100 other adults and children left information sheets. Another casting call will be announced shortly.
“We’ll use a lot of people we have seen this weekend, guaranteed,” Grashaw said.
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