Casting Masterclass with Joanna Ignaczewska
Photo by Jon Craig
Sometimes the sheer volume of people involved at every stage of making a film is simply staggering. So often we focus on directors, producers, actors and cinematographers and forget that without caterers and runners and drivers and prop makers and costume designers, no one could make anything. Casting, whether for the final in the Nolan trilogy, or for your one-man college piece, is one of those oft forgotten skills that can make or break a film.
Joanna Ignaczewska is a renowned Polish actress, fresh from starring in Wallander, and currently filming a jolly part in Miranda alongside an intense psychological thriller called Scopia which sounds entirely terrifying. She also works as a casting director, giving her a unique appreciation of both sides of the audition experience.
Her class begins with us sitting in a circle, explaining who we are and what we want from the experience. There are actors, producers who are just here to learn and directors who are keen not to repeat mistakes. In beautiful English laced with a Polish accent, Joanna tells us that if you get your casting right, then 90% of the film’s success has already been achieved; ‘and as I think you know’ she continues, entirely deadpan, ‘90% is a very high percent.’
With that important fact under our belts we plough on into how we can make the casting process work to our advantage. We learn that Woody Allen always told himself that the next person coming into the room was the person he was most excited about, his hero, his star. It’s certainly an interesting way of approaching the audition and ensuring that each and every person gets your full and undivided attention. So often wildly judgmental myself, I’ll be taking away an appreciation for bringing out the best in people, regardless of my initial opinion.
The class developed into an entertaining role play sequence in which ‘directors’ and ‘actors’ were all given a secret task (be nervous, be obnoxious, be drunk) and asked to play off one another, offering the rest of the group the rare voyeur experience of seeing your own mistakes played out in front of you.
Joanna was not only extremely experienced in her craft, but an excellent teacher as well, allowing every member of this intimate group, whatever their motives, to take something very special from her class. For more information on her casting workshops and upcoming work, do check out her website.