A day of reckoning. And recognizing.
A while back, I talked about how at one point the film itself starts dictating what it needs. How, regardless of external forces or preconceived notions, there comes a time when the film starts calling its own shots.
A very vivid example of this phenomenon happened last week - around the casting of Marion.
Let me say here that Theresapedia assures me the kind of "call and rejection" process we've been dutifully pursuing happens on all kinds of projects all the time. She said that on almost every other production she's done, countless numbers of impassioned and sincere letters go out to remote "names" on a list - proposing the given role, one at a time, to a raft of potential actors who have some kind of "cachet" according to some of the people, some of the time - until some one of them finally says "yes".
Well, by last week, by my calculations, we'd invested a very respectable amount of time and energy going down a respectable, yet remote list. And except for the very genuine interest expressed by Rachel Griffiths, we still had not much to show for our efforts - except experience.
And if experience has taught me anything, it's to listen to my gut - or the film - whichever talks the loudest. So when it happened that we put out a breakdown for the role of Stella and hometown darling Macha Grenon was submitted for the part, my gut started growling. Or maybe it was the film confabulating... Either way, something had spoken.
Macha and I first met last summer just as she was finishing filming a biopic about André Mathieu, a famous Quebec child prodigy. Back then you might remember, we had just received the bulk of our financing and we were actually considering maybe trying to shoot by August. Macha and I had a wonderful meeting of minds. Shortly afterward, she told me that she would have loved to get on board as Marion and I would have loved to have her, but the role required a flawless English with a little prairie music to it. Although she is completely bilingual, Macha is still a native francophone so was uncomfortable taking on such a role without more preparation time. So we agreed to stay in touch and she went off to shoot "Barney's Version" with Paul Giamatti and I went off to wend my way through getting this film made.
Much water has passed under the bridge since that first meeting and there's been a drifting into unchartered territory on our part. But Macha's always remained the "prototype" for Marion - for the kind of actor I should be so lucky to make my first film with... And when she came back into this film's life by way of submitting for Stella's role, well, let's just say - it suddenly felt like coming home.
So to finally cut to the chase then, the wonderful Ms. Macha Grenon has just been cast in the role of Marion. She has a heart and soul as wide and open as the prairies where this film is set and we are all thrilled to have her, to have Marion - right here in our own backyard.