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Actor Michael B. Jordan (center) is surrounded by local actors in a scene from Fantastic 4.

Forging the Way for Locals in Fantastic Four

Actor Michael B. Jordan (center) is surrounded by local actors in a scene from Fantastic 4.

Actor Michael B. Jordan (center) is surrounded by local actors in a scene from Fantastic 4.

Story by W. H. Bourne
Photos by Ben Rothstein, Alan Markfield and Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox and Liz Coulon

Recently, Louisiana Film & Video Magazine had the opportunity to speak with Liz Coulon of Coulon Casting about her work on Fantastic Four which shot last summer in Baton Rouge. Even though Coulon’s company is located in New Orleans, Coulon cast approximately 40 local and regional actors for speaking roles in the upcoming comic book movie adaptation.

Louisiana casting director, Elizabeth Coulon.

Louisiana casting director, Elizabeth Coulon.

“Typically a project comes to Louisiana with the major ‘names’ attached,” explains Coulon. “Then, I work closely with the Los Angeles casting director, producers, and director to fill out the remainder of the cast. On Fantastic Four, the top 15 or so roles were cast out of Los Angeles and New York, and the remaining 40 or so speaking roles were cast locally and regionally. Some of the local actors booked nice, meaty supporting roles, and several others booked day player speaking roles.”

Actor Miles Teller (center) also works with some local cast.

Actor Miles Teller (center) also works with some local cast.

Giving us the run down of the casting process, Coulon says, “I create and release a breakdown to local and regional talent agents. A breakdown is a list of character descriptions. Agents submit talent they think are right for a role. I sort through those submissions and decide who to bring in for an audition.”

“If I cannot find what I am looking for through talent agents, I may release the breakdown to ActorsAccess.com and let talent submit themselves for a role,” continues Coulon. “If I am searching for something very specific, maybe a unique special skill or look, I might release an open call or do a search in MyCastingFile.com, the database of stand-ins and background extras.”

New Orleans casting director Liz Coulon was responsible for finding approximately 40 local actors for speaking roles in Fantastic 4.

New Orleans casting director Liz Coulon was responsible for finding approximately 40 local actors for speaking roles in Fantastic 4.

“On a large studio production such as Fantastic Four, there are several levels of approval that an actor must pass before booking even the smallest speaking role,” adds Coulon.

The secrecy surrounding large tentpole films is incredible. Fantastic Four was no exception.

“With Fantastic Four, we had to be very careful to not give away any important plot points. Sometimes we changed names on the script pages that we released to actors. Other times, we used fake scenes,” notes Coulon.

Actress Kate Mara as Sue Storm/The Invisible Woman.

Actress Kate Mara as Sue Storm/The Invisible Woman.

“I love providing opportunities for good actors to do great work and book roles. Any actor who’s auditioned for me knows how much I love the audition process and that I enjoy working with actors in the room, playing with the scenes and finding something great,” says Coulon, “so, for me, the most rewarding experience on Fantastic Four was being able to place so many actors into the film. Several local actors worked upwards of 10 weeks on Fantastic Four. Some worked a week or two, and many others worked a couple of days.”

Actor Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm.

Actor Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm.

Coulon started her career as an agent in the casting business shortly after Louisiana first introduced the tax credits. After casting background for more than 25 films, Coulon began casting local speaking roles for indies and eventually graduated to larger films such as 21 and 22 Jump Street, Terminator: Genisys, and the TV series Scream. Recently, Coulon has done casting work for Geostorm and The Magnificent Seven. With all of her experience in the industry, she has some great advice for actors interested in being a part of Hollywood South.

“If you are new to acting, you must learn audition technique, get professional head shots and take classes. Get your hands on a scene, find an actor to read the scene with you, and film yourself auditioning. Do not read the scene alone in a mirror! That will not help you. Take acting classes, lots of classes (quantity) and lots of different classes (variety). Learn how to dissect a script, and how to analyze every single word on the page. Once you have absorbed that information, then you can play, make choices, and try new things with the scene,” suggests Coulon. “As for seasoned actors, practice, practice, practice your craft and never stop learning!”

Kate Mara and Michael B. Jordan.

Kate Mara and Michael B. Jordan.

You can catch Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Michael B. Jordan and some great local actors when Fantastic Four debuts in theaters nationwide on August 7th.

NOLA-shot Film Picked Up at TIFF

Photo courtesy TIFF.net

Photo courtesy TIFF.net

American Heist, a New Orleans-shot crime drama, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) earlier this month and came away with a distribution deal.

Saban Films has closed a $2 million deal for U.S. distribution rights to the film, which was directed by Sarik Andreasayan and stars Hayden Christensen, Adrien Brody and Jordana Brewster. Saban Films also recently made a deal at TIFF for The Forger, starring John Travolta, Christopher Plummer and Tye Sheridan.

American Heist, which shot in New Orleans over four weeks in summer 2013, is about two brothers with checkered pasts who become embroiled in a high-stakes bank robbery.

Click here for more.

‘Maze Runner’ Opens Big Internationally

the-maze-runnerThe Maze Runner, shot in and around Baton Rouge last year, doesn’t hit U.S. theaters until this Friday, but it is already performing well in the international market. Check out this Variety article for more info!

Directed by first-time director Wes Ball from a script by Noah Oppenheim, The Maze Runner  stars Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, and Will Poulter. The film follows “Thomas” (O’Brien), who wakes up and finds himself trapped in a massive maze with a group of boys. He has no memory of the outside world. Only by piecing together fragments of his past with clues he discovers in the maze, can Thomas hope to uncover his true purpose and a way to escape.

Lake Charles Film & Music Festival Seeking Submissions

The third annual Lake Charles Film & Music Festival will take place October 10-12 with independent film screenings, live music, seminars and workshops in downtown Lake Charles. The festival is currently seeking entries for films that have been completed after January 1, 2012.

There are submission categories for Feature Film, Documentary, Short Film, Foreign Film, Home Grown, Student, Music Video and Animation.  These films will compete to win a “Scallywag” award and cash prizes.

More information and submission forms are available on www.lakecharlesfilmfestival.com. The deadline for entries is August 13.lake charles

“Last year’s festival was such a success, that we are expanding this year and adding a music festival component. We’ll be taking music submissions from bands and solo artists,” said Patrick Bennett, executive director of the Lake Charles Film & Music Festival.

In addition to viewing films, this year’s festival includes a celebrity guest appearance by actor, writer, producer, director and singer Wesley Eure. Eure starred in the TV series Land of the Lost and was on Days of Our Lives for nine years. He also appeared in the feature film C.H.O.M.P.S. with Valerie Bertinelli.

The film festival will include seminars and workshops on screenwriting, acting, filmmaking, stop motion animation, making a TV series and much more.

The Lake Charles Film Festival is produced by Louisiana Film & Video Art, Inc., a non-profit organization formed to bring quality independent film festivals, special film screenings, and educational filmmaking workshops to Lake Charles and showcase the artistic talents of Louisiana filmmakers around the world.