Countdown To Dave And Greg
After months of long hours, a reshoot of the original pilot, and just a few scenes left to film of the 10 episode arc Dave And Greg will finally be posted online for you all to see. The crowd funding campaigns will drop very soon, with an episode per week (with a mid season break) will be uploaded for the world to watch, critique, and love or hate. I'm just excited to finally get it completed and share it with anyone who's interested.
I was asked by the guys at Men With Kilts Films to share some of my experiences playing Dave, as well as getting the chance to put my past production skills to use and even attempting some new knowledge I've picked up over the past decade or so.
I discovered the casting call on the oh so reliable Kijiji, which for most actors and filmmakers (especially those of us with agents) is considered pretty much a crap shoot when it comes to serious projects. But this one immediately caught my eye, it was very earnest and professional in its wording compared to the majority of the ads out there and they made their goals for this project quite clear.
That's all it took for me to send in my headshot and resume. At the very least I could meet with them and decide whether or not the series was worth my time. Any reservations that I may have were quickly erased once I received the sides for the three characters they wanted me to audition for.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with that term,"sides" are a small section of the script which contain only the lines and scenes you are going to perform, or in this case audition with, that day. I was sent the sides for the two main characters Dave and Greg, as well as the smaller role of a drug dealer named Lazy Pete. I read, and reread, each character multiple times and finally landed on auditioning for the Lazy Pete role.
My decision for that was two fold. The first being I don't consider myself as an actor. I'm a writer, a comedian, a filmmaker, basically a story teller so why would I go after a lead role when there are so many others out there who could most likely do it better. The second reason was there was something very interesting about the Lazy Pete character that grabbed me, and I felt I could bring something to that role. Plus, he only shows up in two episodes. Which would give me a little more acting experience without all the heavy lifting of being a main character.
I arrived at Allister's apartment, which they apologetically explained was a last minute decision as they had lost the location for auditions a few days before and hadn't had time to book another space. I explained that I completely understood having made films myself and these things happen with an indie production. We chatted briefly, I gave them a little information about my production and acting background and we settled into the audition.
Now I'm going to say this to all of you who are aspiring actors and/or filmmakers: THE AUDITION PROCESS BLOWS!!! And not just for one side, for everyone involved!
If you're an actor you're walking in almost completely blind. Sure you have the dialog and a few screen directions but to actually give that character on the page life with nothing but your instincts to go on is nearly impossible.
Now the flip side of that are the directors, writers, and producers on the other side of the table. Sure they have a strong concept of what each character should embody, and how they behave but it's a total roll of the dice based on what each actor brings to the table. The only way to get what you want is to see as many actors as possible, which after hour three becomes mind numbing. The only reason I feel I can speak to this is because I've been on both sides of the table.
So the three of us settled in and I read through the Lazy Pete scene with them a few times. I felt it went pretty well, and just as I was about to say goodbye and thank them for meeting with me Jay piped up.
"Would you mind reading the sides for Dave and for Greg? We'd just like to see how you would do it."
"Sure," I shrugged. I gathered the sides for both characters off the coffee table, and from my perspective, stumbled my way through them.
In my head the performance for both those characters wasn't there, I wouldn't have casted me for the lead, and as I thanked the guys and walked out the door I figured those performances had blown my chance to even play Lazy Pete. Boy was I wrong.
Off to the races and I'm one of the leads
A few days later I received an email, I know I mentioned on my podcast last week that I couldn't remember whether they had called or if it was an email, I actually did some digging and it definitely was an email. To my surprise not only did I not completely blow the audition, in fact Jay was extremely complimentary about my performance:
"Hey Matt, just wanted to let you know Allister and I really appreciated you auditioning for us the other day, and we would like to offer you the role of Dave. After everyone we saw you were the only one with the presence and comedic timing to pull the role of..."
I'lI stop that quote there, because it goes into the compensation for the role. Just do us all a favor and donate what you can when indiegogo and kickstarter campaigns go up, we'd all appreciate it.
Two weeks later we were on set for the first time to start the pilot.
Matt and Mike aka Dave and Greg
The first day on set is always nerve wracking especially when it comes to the two principle actors who have to create a believable relationship, and in the case of Dave and Greg it's a friendship that runs very deep and has lasted for many years. I came up with the idea of Mike and I running lines via Skype leading up to the first day of production. I was not only attempting to make sure we had our lines down, but I also wanted to get to know the person I would be spending pretty much my entire screen time with. The worst case scenario would be we couldn't get along personally, but we would have figured out a way to coexist on set and in our roles professionally. Luckily we hit it off and these first few conversations/rehearsals went really well.
I would be lying if I didn't say I wasn't intimidated by Mike's acting background and training. I most definitely was, and on certain days I still am. Sure I have more experience on the production side of things, and there is an element of performance in my stand up act but I never look at myself as an actor. That's not to say I don't take the craft seriously, I definitely do. In some cases I take it a little too seriously. The first day of shooting Jay asked us if we'd like to see any of the footage from what we had done that day. Mike let at the opportunity to see himself onscreen, I opted to not look at it at all. Not because I'm a narcissist or a diva (that's Mike's job ask him he'll tell you), I was really self conscious about my performance and the last thing I wanted was to see the footage and immediately start second guessing every line or choice I made for the character for the rest of the series.
Mike was constantly encouraging and supportive, occasionally it felt like he had an uncanny ability to sense when I was feeling off and do his best to comfort me and get me back on track. Regardless of what the script called for that day. We've done everything from vomitting, to drag, to filming in our underwear in an alley downtown and so much more. To say we were fearless and willing to go above and beyond for Dave And Greg is an understatement.
The Dave influence
I chatted briefly about this on my last podcast so I thought I would delve a little deeper for this post and try to explain some of the things I touched on during that short episode. As lucky as I feel to have been casted as Dave, and as much fun as I've had playing he character there were many scenes and days that were difficult for me. Not because it was tough to get the dialog out, and not because it was tough for me to understand who Dave is. The difficulty for me was getting out of "Dave's headspace" when we wrapped on certain days. Don't worry I know how pretentious and cliche that sounds.
The reason it was so tough was in many ways through my late teens through all of my 20s I was Dave. I was a HUGE stoner, to the point where it was affecting my motivation and perception of life; my grandfather was a Baptist minister, Dave's father is a preacher; Dave also struggles with the way he is perceived not only by Greg but also by the world at large and many times will make a terrible decision to protect both his reputation but also his pride; and he does all of this under the veil of sarcasm and deflecting any criticism with humour.
I used to do many of these things in my past and have worked years to change some, and adapt others into positives. However as filming wore on I found myself getting lost in these old feelings and habits each day we wrapped an extremely emotional scene. Sure Dave is definitely the moron an the comic relief for the show, but the character travels an emotional roller-coaster that is equal too the one in which Greg does. In some moments Dave's moments are much more straining for the audience. Which could be a large reason why there were days where I sincerely had trouble shaking the character.
I'm still not sure if that means I'm a great actor, or that I'm such a noob that I don't fully understand the process. Regardless Dave And Greg has been an incredible experience and I wouldn't change a moment of any of it. I am excited for all of you to see it, and I hope he audience enjoys he final product as much as we did making it.