Tips on Surviving the Audition From "Last Survivor" Casting Director Arlie Day
In the deserted, drought-stricken world that filmmakers Tom Hammock, Seth Caplan, and Chris Harding created, every role impacted "The Last Survivors." The film revolves around Kendal, a young woman who is trying to find water while protecting herself and her sick companion, Dean, from others fighting for the limited water supply. The producers budgeted their limited funds wisely and brought in Arlie Day to cast the three main roles, which were integral to the film.
Casting the right actor for the pivotal role of Kendal (Haley Lu Richardson) was essential. Before hiring a casting director, the producers had seen a few actors for the role. “They just weren’t getting it…She needs this toughness about her, but yet this innocence at the same time,” Day says, noting that Richardson “really brought this vulnerability that [the] other girls didn’t.” Or if they did, “you would never believe that they would be able to hold a gun and really fight for themselves.” When Richardson came back and met with them again, Day says she completely won the room. Day had auditioned Richardson for a role on “Bunheads” and although Richardson hadn’t booked the role, she remained on Day’s radar. “When she came in to meet with us, I already had love for her.” Knowing that Richardson was a dancer helped to assure Day that she could handle the physicality required for the film.
Day had also been following BooBoo Stewart (who played Dean, Kendal’s love interest) since he’d tested as a child for the pilot of “Brothers & Sisters.” She loved his look: “He’s just got this chocolate darkness, like these dark eyes and this really soulful look and this very sort of old soul to him even though he’s very young. He brought something so different to the table that the other guys didn’t.” Ironically, she’d tested his sister for the same role as Richardson on “Bunheads”. “So it all comes full circle,” says Day.
For the villainess Skye (Jacqueline Emerson), the challenge was finding someone who didn’t feel too much older than Richardson or Stewart. When Emerson came in, Day says she nailed it: “It’s one of those things where they come in the room and you’ve seen so many people and you just know. They leave the room and you just say ‘that’s it.’”
As for advice to actors, Day encourages them to ask questions in the room, or better yet, ask their agent or manager to get clarification ahead of time. “Be prepared and don’t be afraid to ask questions.” Day also tells actors to assume they did it right the first time if she doesn’t give an adjustment. “A lot of actors get in their head, ‘she didn’t adjust me and that means she didn’t like me.’ If you nailed it on the first time, there’s no sense in seeing it again.”
She also recommends ensuring that you’re ready before trying to get into an audition room. “Be in class and focus on the craft and make sure [you’re] really strong,” she says. “These actors will come into town and they want to do casting director workshops and then get a job. [But] they’re still very green, and so although some of them have this raw talent, so they’re good and it’s there, they still have to figure out audition technique.”