This week, we're taking a look at the casting process of William's Lullaby and what it was like for us to be first introduced to Toby Bisson, Richard Roy Sutton and the rest of our cast.
But first... We have begun colour grading William's Lullaby and it is incredible the difference it makes. I am very excited with how it is turning out and I thought I would share a little "colour test" with you to give you an idea of the subtle differences that alteration in colour can make to a scene.
Rewind the tape to May, 2011 and we look back at William's Lullaby in its infancy. We began a casting call for William's Lullaby in Toronto and Kingston (where we planned on shooting the film) using print media, radio ads and online casting calls. At that point, all other roles had been cast either internally or, in some cases, prior to pre-production even starting. We were specifically looking for our two leads; Thomas and William Splinter. The result were numerous video submissions from actors and non-actors across Ontario.
From videos and online auditions, we moved on to casting in person and saw nearly 50 people for both leads. We were looking for something very specific in both characters. Both had to be likeable and sympathetic to an audience; and furthermore they had to be believable as father and son.
In walks young Toby Bisson.
Toby will correct me on this (because the difference IS a big deal) but I believe he was six at the time of auditioning for us. He had caught our eye earlier when a video was sent in to us of him dancing to the entirety of Michael Jackson's "Beat It" (air guitar and all) with a closing line of: "I'm Toby Bisson and I want you to pick me for your movie." In truth, he had won our hearts from that point on. And that feeling was further reinforced when we met him in person. He is the William on the page and demonstrated both a youth and maturity beyond his six years that would be required to take on a project of this scope.
This was Toby's first movie role and for those of you that have been following us on FACEBOOK or TWITTER, you know that he has been doing extremely well ever since.
Later that same day, Richard Roy Sutton owned the room and who knew at the time that these two would soon be playing father and son. Well, we did. Very quickly too.
Richard brought with him credentials, experience and tools as an actor with many credits to his resume, a full reel and a previous video audition in which he had already read scenes from the script.
Richard's read was without a doubt the best we had heard. I recall Alex McLean, our co-producer (who read opposite Richard in his audition) commenting after he left the room: "He stared into my soul!"
Two days later and after many hours of auditions and discussion, we made the calls and Toby Bisson and Richard Roy Sutton joined the William's Lullaby team. They became a part of the pre-existing cast that included Kingston's Partners in Crime duo, Ila Lawton and Robert Lawton in the roles of Collette and Peter, respectively. Amy Healey (who also sat in on casting) as the gracious and motherly kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Gibson. Peter Nielsen. Sandie Cond. Marc Veno. Gabe Meacher. Calvin Rea. Braedon Da Silva and many others.
Upon completion of the script, we had thought the roles would be impossible to cast and indeed they were our biggest challenge in the process (a five-year-old involved in intense scenes and carrying a feature-length film is not easy to find). But we had found our Thomas and William in Richard and Toby. And if we were excited with them then, our reaction after shooting the film in August 2011 was one of absolute glee and confidence.