SO, IT ACTUALLY HAPPENED…
Ever since “Prank Wars” was just a twinkle in my eye, I’ve imagined putting this book trailer together. I thought, what could be better than to have the very people this book is about, act it out, right? Right. Sure. I was at BYU at the time, and I thought it was the best idea ever. How hard could it possibly be to put a thing like this together? The whole idea meant incorporating all of my favorite things: Film, pranks, BYU, my friends, crazy creative ideas, a little bit of stress, a little bit of money (aigh!), and though I didn’t know it at the time—firm resolve and amazing acting abilities.
THE PRE-FILMING DAYS
So since this book is coming out V-Day (Valentine’s Day for all those unfamiliar with my war lingo), I decided to make my crazy idea become a reality and hold auditions. This made me do very unusual things like hike around BYU campus with my nieces, Carissa and Victoria, and put up audition notices. The first thing I noticed was that there weren’t as many places to put random fliers like there used to be. When I went to BYU, we had fliers hanging all over the walls. This time, the walls were white and pristine. It was like walking through memory lane with whitewashed walls. For a person used to chaos, it made me a little jittery. Needless to say, I wasn’t sure how long my fliers would last on the walls before some heartless janitors ripped them down—Oh, you heartless janitors!
So, that’s when I got desperate and turned to facebook. I pleaded for anyone who knew a college student around the Utah area to forward it on to those who might audition. I had to use the phone. Yeah, the phone! And call BYU’s paper, the ‘Universe’ and take out an ad in the classifieds (guys, it was like three dollars a day—it WAS awesome), and then I also had to reserve the Provo City Library (another steal of a deal, I recommend it) for the actual auditions.
A quick side note: I seriously couldn’t have done any of this without my friends; Sandra, Jacqueline and Hilary. We’re called the Triad (because we do ‘Triad Film Productions’), but we were the quad with this project. Sandra made me promise not to offer anyone the role on the spot (since I quite frequently do that) and she manned the role of the ‘contact person,’ Jacqueline designed the advertisements, Hilary knew the ins and outs (since she’s done a million auditions on both sides) and was the perfect consultant. And that left me as the organizer—I guess we all have to stretch our talents out, right?
At this point, auditioners were starting to sign up (wonderful wonderful girls)…though not that many guys. So Hilary (my ‘Raven Musical’ sidekick) and I stormed an “Actor’s Mix and Mingle” in Salt Lake and were tormented by professional actors who wanted to know what we could offer them if they agreed to be in it? Uh, fame? Uh, connections for when we hit it big someday? Uh? It might be fun? After getting raked over the coals with our lack of prepared speeches and calling cards, we eventually found some new friends on our way out the door (Hilary was late for a first date). I felt like Cinderella, leaving behind glass slippers with my number on it…but it was worth it, because as the clock struck twelve (or ten in our case), we found the actors who would later play Byron, Eric, and Sandra (though we didn’t know it at the time). I pleaded our cause while Hilary did a I’ve-got-to-get-out-of-here dance behind them.
After all that work, the big day for auditions came. We brought our friend, April (an energetic and bright-eyed friend who immediately put each auditioner at ease by assuming the role as their personal cheerleader). We couldn’t have picked a better girl to greet people outside the big bad audition room. Sandra, Hilary, and I (Jacqueline was in New York) sat behind the auditioner’s table. I had originally planned to let Hilary and Sandra do most of the talking, but they insisted that I get out of my brooding writer ways and man up, so I had to do what actually comes naturally—talk.
The auditioners were so much fun! Throughout the day, I could blink and easily imagine these girls or guys playing the characters that I’d grown to love from my book. It was like seeing them all come to life in front of my eyes. There were so many that we loved: the girl who used her purse as a prop. She played high-maintenance at the drop of a hat. The guy who came straight from skydiving. We only wished he had made an entrance by skydiving through the window, the cute-as-a-button girl who said she’d dye her hair any color anytime, the gorgeous actress that April fought for every step of the way, the girl who was the exact lookalike of one of my nieces (in a few years), the energetic redheads, the girl who ran up the stairs in her rugby clothes two minutes after auditions were over and won the part of Thanh.
Needless to say, our auditioners did NOT make it easy on us. How could we possibly choose between them? Let me tell you, we had some heated discussions trying to decide, but in the end we were very happy with our decisions and hope to still use some of our other favorites in upcoming roles (if they’ll have us).
On Saturday, October 29th, we left Salt Lake at 5:30 in the morning, and after many initial mishaps, we were on our way to Provo to film at my niece’s place at BYU. Provo felt so strange and familiar at the same time.The main thing that stood out was that everyone was so NICE! At one of our filming locations, I tried to call my sister to come help me unload the lights. All I had to say was “I need some help” and a guy from a bike lurched to a stop and offered his assistance. He took a heavy load of water bottles and someone else stopped him to help him out too. We had a helper for our helper! And of course, when we forgot our duct tape, I was quick to remember the ways of Provo. Within moments of knocking on random doors, I was armed with duct tape and ready to go.
Our main cast was exactly how I pictured them in my books, and by the end of the day, the girls were fast friends. Our Madeleine was full of fire and spunk. You will LOVE her facial expressions. Our Tory was a riot—don’t be surprised if you see her gracing the posters of Divine comedy or Comedy Sportz in the near future. Her Canadian jokes came from a bottomless pit (poor Hilary). And of course, the moment our Kali mispronounced ‘polygamy’ in auditions, she was in. She was adorable. We happened to grab our Lizzie at the last second (she’s my niece’s friend), and to be honest, we had no idea if she could act, but THE MOMENT she opened her mouth, I knew we were the luckiest, most fortunate and blessed filmmakers in the world because she WAS Lizzie incarnate! I can seriously go on and on about these actors. Our Byron had his smirk down. Sandra (the character, not the real one) was terrifying—I have NEVER seen a girl apply red glimmery lipstick in such a threatening way (yet in real life, such a super nice girl). Eric was (well…maybe I shouldn’t give him away), but he was just as he should be…and Dune guy—he’s another you’ll have to see for yourself because he was PERFECT! I couldn’t be more pleased with everyone!
As we reached the end of the day, we got to meet our dirty rotten pranksters. I have NOT laughed so hard in a VERY LONG TIME. They were full of energy and spunk. I gave them their prank war props and they took their scenes to an entirely new and hilarious level. They even TP-ed one of our actors until they were mummified. Just like the book, our Tory (sporting aviators, black nit cap, and a bubble camo skirt) led the girls onto glorious misadventures. And our guys (many from our film crew) stole the scenes as the slackers out to steal ammo (marshmallows) and eat it!
Still, none of these scenes would’ve been possible without our crew. Jacqueline was our cinematographer, Sandra was my assistant director, Hilary was our amazing production assistant, Weston was on lighting, Jon was on boom, and Jeremy—well, he kinda did everything! Let me tell you, I’ve looked at this footage, and our lighting and sound has never been so good. And even more amazing, when some of our guy actors didn’t show, the guys on our crew doubled as soldiers. It was the best experience we’ve had with crew so far. Thank you! Also thank you, Colin, for the use of your apartment, for your acting abilities and your wonderful British accent (and an advanced thank-you for letting us use a song from your band “Lovecapades” for our trailer). And finally another big thank-you to my poor niece Victoria and all of her roommates who allowed us to bombard their home and use their apartment. They are and ALWAYS WILL BE remembered as martyrs! I owe you!
All in all, this month has been ONE crazy, busy, and adventurous month! It’s probably why I haven’t been able to post in my blog this whole time (well, I’d like to blame that, but who am I kidding really? I am a terrible blogger). We have one more day of filming left—this Saturday…with snow in the forecast, haha, but that’s the way with showbiz. We will press on, cross our fingers, plunge forward and make the most of it. And no matter what, I’ll always have something really exciting to write about.