A steady stream of visitors came through the Garde Arts Center’s gallery on Thursday afternoon to try their hand at being selected for an extra role in an upcoming independent feature film.
Some of the applicant had prior experience on the stage or before a camera. Others just thought it would be a fun thing to try out. James Cook, a Mitchell College student, paid a visit after his mother suggested it to him.
“I have lacrosse practice at 4, so I have two hours of nothing,” he said. “She told me I should drive down here. She said, ‘You never know, something may happen.’”
Jim Vangieri, of Westerly, R.I., said he has done some community theater with his most recent role being Judas in a production of The Passion of the Christ in Wilcox Park.
“This is just something you can be passionate about,” he said. “It’s another side, so it’s a lot of fun.”
The film, entitled Something Whispered, is being filmed through November in Connecticut locales such as East Hadam, Guilford, Mystic, and Pomfret. Cuba Gooding Jr. is the lead actor and Peter Cousens—best known for his acting roles on Sons and Daughters and Return to Eden—is directing. Michael Goodin is the producer.
According to the Associated Press, the story will take place in 1850 and follow a family’s effort to escape slavery along the Underground Railroad. The New London casting call is the fourth one—following similar calls in Bridgeport, Guilford, and Putnam—and seeks 300 paid background extras to portray Africans and Caucasians between the ages of 18 and 40.
“We end up casting out a week in advance, so you can hear from us from now until the end of the shoot,” said Mary Ellen Scanlon, a local casting director with Casting Revolution.
Applicants had their photograph taken and were asked to fill out a short form. This provided information such as age and body size, affiliation with any actors’ union, scheduling conflicts between Sept. 25 and Nov. 15, occupation, past experience, and special abilities.
Stephanie Jaworowicz had an advantage in the latter areas. She has previously appeared on Citizens Television in New Haven and attended a number of dance schools and programs in New York City. She went to the casting call after seeing a sign for it while bicycling from the library to get lunch.
“I miss dancing. I miss performing, so I wanted the opportunity to do something performance-oriented,” she said.
Mesha Gunter made the trip from Springfield, Mass. after hearing about the casting call in an e-mail from a talent agency. She has done modeling, but the film would be her first time on the screen if she is selected.
“Why not give it a shot?” she said. “You only live once. I’m trying to get myself out there. You’ve got to start somewhere.”
Scanlon said some of the scenes will be filmed in Mystic at the end of October. Filming is expected to conclude in mid-November.
Casting Revolution retains information submitted at casting calls in a database, so people may be contacted for future productions if they are not selected for Something Whispered. Anyone interested in being an extra may also e-mail a photo and contact information to email@example.com with the subject line "Africa” for consideration.