Director’s Notes: Part 2 of 3
Knowing that each story was going to ultimately be a scene in a larger feature film, I was now looking for actors in each short that could grow with the production as it evolved in that direction. Someone who could “deliver the goods,” so to speak on both short films, but who also had the chops and could step up to the plate when we developed the feature. And this went for many of the supporting cast in both films as well – I even created roles in some instances, to include certain really talented people who made it to callbacks, so that we could develop a relationship that would transcend the shorts and continue into the feature process on Manslaughter.
Mike auditions for the role of “Mike”
So, by the time Mike Kalinowski auditioned for the role of “Mike,” we were now auditioning male actors at the same time for lead roles in two productions: Inner Beauty (originally titled “Gwen, Amber & Stacy”) and of course, The Shed. As mentioned before, these would be filmed back to back, with just two weeks allotted for each from pre-production to wrapping principal photography (pickup shots, ADR with actors and audio post excluded).
I had envisioned possibly going with two different actors for the lead roles in both shorts, but the plot I had in mind for the feature film really required the same actor playing both roles due to the story arc of the larger movie. There were a few really wonderful guys who we narrowed it down to in callbacks. All had the leading man quality necessary for the role of “Mike,” but the decision to go with Kalinowski rapidly became an artistic choice driven by the ideas that were developing around “The Manslaughter,” and how the shorts would fit as scenes within the larger context of that.
What it really came down to though, was that Mike Kalinowski demonstrated the unique blend I was looking for in playing both parts… He had that “Boy Next Door” charm you would associate with these kind of characters. But for me as a director, the casting of Mike as “Rob” in ”The Shed” and as “Mike” in “Inner Beauty,” was in both cases, casting against type, which I’m also a big believer in.
I really like subtle performances, where it’s all about the subtext with the character, which is so important in these type of thriller pieces we’re doing here… you have to build to a climax and keep the audience guessing at the outcome- and Mike is great at pulling that off, and also perfect at handling the physical side of any performance.
And Mike has a brilliant sense of comic as well as dramatic timing- Don’t let those good looks fool you into pigeon holing him into one type of role or another… He’s very versatile. In many ways he kind of reminds me of Cary Grant and every thing I’ve seen and read about him. He’s very physical like Grant, and has the same type of rugged good looks- but like Cary Grant, he’s incredibly funny on set as well, and always has a ready to go, fun-loving attitude… he’s really great to work with. There’s not a lot of fuss or muss involved – he can just turn on the character like flipping a switch. And yet there’s just this really honest quality about him when he works with his female leads- you just get this true sense that he’s in the moment, take after take.
Now of course, having said all this, they’ll be just NOOO living with the guy… I’m laughing as I write this of course, but seriously- I just hope we can get the feature developed before he becomes too big of a star and is completely booked for the next decade- As is the case with a lot of the great talent who auditioned for us with both shorts, Mike is on fire right now. His star is rising fast, as I knew it would the moment I first saw and heard him read… I feel lucky that we have him in both “The Shed” and “Inner Beauty,” and definitely look forward to working with him again soon.