The Art of Recasting

(Ghetto Nerd Girl) #1

This column is written by Sally Hassan, the creator of Ghetto Nerd Girl. I talk about how to get through the vital steps of making a web series as smoothly and painlessly as possible.

When I began my web series journey, the duration of my timeline was unclear. I didn’t know how long each step was going to take. A lot of the time progress was slow but we were moving forward nevertheless. Before trying my luck in web series all I had ever done was short films. Short films are a very different beast. It’s not a volume of work so when you wrap it’s complete.

With the web series medium, there is a lot more uncertainty. There were many questions I never asked myself that I should have such as how many seasons, episodes, duration, etc. I had the attitude of, “Let’s see where this goes.” Our journey has been long but rewarding. I’m grateful for those who have stuck by my side from the beginning. However, I am understanding when someone chooses to part ways.

Roland Keller & Melissa Damas in Season 1 Finale Episode - V Is For Virgin

I was hit the hardest when I received the news that 1st season Susan, Melissa Damas would be leaving us. I was devastated. I thought this was the nail in the coffin. This is one departure I couldn’t come back from. Melissa and I clicked so well that I thought she was irreplaceable. There was no way I could talk her out of this either. Melissa was making the move to California, which was understandable. I couldn’t stop her from pursuing her career.

Where did that leave Ghetto Nerd Girl? We had released Season 1 & Season 2 was written and about to be cast. With the help of my remaining main characters, they assured me we could recast and everything would be back on track. I was reluctant but willing to go through with it.

Finding a new Susan was difficult and getting my head wrapped around the fact it would no longer be Melissa was even more difficult. I was fighting to have an open mind. Then I thought about my audience. How do I break the news to them? I did the following to make recasting easier for myself, my team, and my audience.

1.) Be Transparent – Let your cast & crew know what happened as soon as you can. You don’t have to give details but let them know the gist. Your attitude on the situation will be contagious so make sure you have a positive outlook on it.

2.) Recasting – For logistics read Casting Challenges & When Actors Quit. I had my 2 main characters read with the girls auditioning as Susan to see if there would be chemistry on camera. That was a huge help in making my decision.

3.) Don’t Compare – When you choose your candidate to recast be sure not to compare to the former actor. Everyone is their own person so let them be who they are. Have an open mind and get to know your new cast member. It also wouldn’t hurt to introduce them to everyone before the cameras roll. Tania Dutta, our season 2 Susan had an opportunity to meet the cast at the table read which was great.

4.) Announcement – I was so nervous to announce our new girl on social media. I was scared how people would react. I wanted them to get to know Tania so I interviewed her on the website I was working on at the time.

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Tania Dutta & Roland Keller in Ghetto Nerd Girl Season 2 Promo Pic

I was so at ease once we found our new Susan. Tania is confident, bubbly, and brought her own spunk to the role. I let her have her own personality to bring to the character which helped her to flourish. Tania rose to the occasion since we had an ambitious shooting schedule and she was the new girl in town. I’m lucky I found her and we clicked better than I thought possible. She took the role seriously and almost brought tears to my eyes during certain scenes when they replayed in front of me.

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Teach Me Tuesday: Firing and recasting actors
What is the best way to announce a casting change?