So there I was, in prep on Katie's Song a short film I had agreed to produce for a close friend. Satch Watanabe, the writer/director, had written an interesting piece about a young woman with AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia) and her interaction with a man who she doesn't realize is her father... A man who abandoned her when she was just four years old.
After working on the script for several months, we had already begun the casting process. Satch had already cast the role of our lead (a fantastic young actress named Lana Shea), but we were still looking for someone to play her father as well as someone to play the role of Katie's boyfriend - a role that had been expanded at my suggestion. I reached out to an old friend of mine (a well respected acting coach) named Bobbie Chance (bobbychance.com) - I asked her if I might be able to come in and see some of her students work. My wife and I drove over to her studio in the Valley and sat in on one of the classes. The students put up their scenes in groups and by the end of the class, I had settled on a young guy I thought would work well with Lana. He was natural, never seemed to be "acting," and he was good looking.
When the class ended, he left pretty fast. I spoke quickly with my wife, getting her opinion on the young actor (as I often do about screenplays, or other things... she's a great sounding board) and with her approval of him, I basically chased him down. I caught up to him on the sidewalk and introduced myself. His name was Jerad Anderson. I told him I thought he was "very good." I asked him if he had a headshot and he said he'd get one from his car.
He came back moments later and I told him a little about the short film and what it would be. I talked about our shooting schedule and told him about what his role would be. I didn't offer the role, as I had to run it by Satch, but I was pretty sure Satch would trust my recommendation and cast him without a meeting.
A few weeks later, I was standing on the set in a loft in Santa Monica. We were shooting a key scene in which Katie and her boyfriend record a video for her website - a site to raise awareness about AML and to encourage people to sign up as Bone Marrow Donors. Satch had based the film on the discovery of a real woman named Michelle and her actual website.
Jerad had an audition that day and needed to break away, if I would let him. The short was so low-budget that I had taken on a variety of roles - one of which was First AD. I consulted with out Director of Photography, a really great guy (and super talented shooter) named Jon Edward Miller (http://www.jonedwardmiller.com/content.agent?page_name=Home) and reviewed the call sheet for the day. I estimated that Jerad could go away for about an hour. Based on our set-up time for the next shot, I knew we'd break for lunch before we completed the next scene and combining the time it would take to complete the scene, break for lunch and set-up Jerad's next shot, I figured he'd have more than enough time to make his audition and get back to set.
Things actually did time out pretty well... thanks to a bit of luck. Ian Nelson, our male lead in my last film (a great little feature called Dakota Skye) was at the same audition and after learning that Jerad was doing a project of mine, let Jerad go in ahead of him in order to help him make it back on time.
I guess Jerad was impressed with the way I ran the set. At wrap that day, he told me he had a feature he was developing and that they would have the money within the month. He asked if I'd be interested in reading the script and, perhaps, coming on as producer. I told him I'd love to read it.
Little did I know, that brief conversation would start me on a path that would carry me through the adventure of producing my second feature - a journey that began over 8 months ago and continues even as I write this... on a project called: Girlfriend