After graduating from UCLA in 2010, I got sick and struggled for 2 years to regain my health. I thought it might be a sign I needed to move out of LA. My dear friend Tony suggested that I pursue one of my dreams more seriously... “You write it, we shoot it,” he said. There was something quite magical about throwing myself into what seemed to be an impossible project. We had 3 weeks to meet the deadline for a submission of "C'est magique!" to the Cannes Film Festival in my home town.
Nayda (the director) and I became very close, spending entire days and nights on living room floors with notecards and laptops. It seemed that the toughest part would be finding a little French girl who’d be able to play a younger version of me. We put out casting notices in San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, SLO and San Francisco. We had three casting sessions, and still had not found our Little Coralie two days before principal photography was to start.
I was ready to cast two curly blonde, blue eyed 5-year-old twins who had driven from San Diego with a French teacher, and showed up in pink tutus and wings. Before they even said hello, the twins' mother told me she’d dye their hair brown, put in contacts, straighten their hair and even pin in a fake tooth into their tiny gums to fill the little gap. Some parents sure go to great lengths to get their offspring work!
I've gone to the extreme to be a part of a project before... Nevertheless, I was still baffled how many people came to audition for an unpaid role. Moreover, they all signed that they’d be:
-Driving themselves 3+ hours to set (200 miles north from LA and 310 miles from San Diego).
-Provide their own lodging.
-Working as many jobs on set as they could for an indefinite number of hours and days.
-Compensated with a copy of the film and have their name in the credits
Why we still work in this industry, I'll never know!
Nayda responded that if the twins were cast, I’d be dyeing my hair (and she’d put a gap back in my teeth). Sadly, the little angels didn’t speak a word of French so there went my reason for going blonde… I even went as far as suggesting dubbing the baby French voices myself! But no… Nayda, never had a doubt that a mini-me would come along. She was ready to start filming without our little star.
But then we received a phone call... Nayda and I scrambled to find a last minute audition space... On a Sunday! Would it be weird to ask a little girl and her mom if we could come over to their home? Is it creepy to invite them over to our private apartment?
We crashed in a friend’s empty office building in Santa Monica. Little did we know that such a place seemed even creepier… As I clambered in the dark to find the lights in the huge, mysterious room, I jumped out of my pants when the shadow of a leafy monster appeared from behind me… I turned ready to attack then realized it was Nayda pulling in a plastic tree from a neighboring office, to make it slightly more inviting. :-)
And behind her, in the glow of sunlight, stood Miss Emmanuelle Weisbach. An adorable 6 year old, brunette [da*n. There went my Barbie Blonde dream], fluent in French, who did ballet, sang and played violin.
After scrambling so hard to find our little actress, the hard part was over. Or so we thought…