Lights. Camera. Action.
Right look for camera.
Acting on point.
Twenty-five actors from all over Indiana to Kentucky arrived to Logansport recently to audition for a spot in a spy thriller movie, “Plausible Deniability,” that will be filmed in Logansport during a two-week period in late August.
Each actor was brought in one-by-one to part of the MagicHouse Productions movie set on Erie Avenue. The set consisted of a hotel room with lime green walls, a striped couch, TV, wall hangings and green curtains.
The room was offset with bright lights, a video camera filming the actors’ every move, and several behind-the-scenes individuals — director Mark Racop; assistant casting director, Sandra Shoemaker; first assistant director, Michael Williams; second assistant director, Andrew Ulrich; cameraman, Dan Gadberry; director of photography, Greg Fauvergue; assistant Chris Allen; and soundman, Chuck Budreau.
Lola Stone drove from Louisville, Ky., to audition for Katya, the lead female role.
The role requires a Russian accent. Most of the roles in the upcoming film require Russian accents. The story follows Alex, a computer techno nerd that is suddenly forced to become a field agent after his friend and mentor is killed. Alex faces danger at every turn while trying to track down a bio-terrorist that wants to kill hundreds of thousands with nerve gas. Thankfully, an ex-agent named Katya helps Alex through his trials and tribulations.
“Can you perfect your Russian?” Racop asked Stone after she read through Katya’s part. “You have the Southern accent down.”
After Lola read through the script again, Racop had made a decision.
“Probably not a Russian for you, but probably one of the other characters,” he said.
Stone, who hosts a Louisville talk show, didn’t go home empty-handed, though.
Racop said he’d likely use Stone in several different roles and scenes.
Stone wasn’t disappointed that she drove 3 1/2 hours to Logansport and didn’t get a lead part.
“That’s OK,” she said. “It was a pretty day.” “I just wasn’t Russian enough,” she added.
Ed Ernstes of South Bend was up next, reading for a Russian Mafia boss.
Racop was impressed.
“I’m very, very happy that you came,” he told Ernstes at the end of the audition.
Ernstes said acting is a hobby of his.
Last year, he was in six movies. In 1986, he was an extra in “Hoosiers.”
“Every audition you go to you learn a little bit more,” he said. “I’ve taken a couple of acting classes. There’s a lot to it to make it appear like you’re not acting. It’s harder than it looks. You’re not just saying lines. You’re juggling three or four things at the same time.”
He said the most difficult thing is getting into character and blocking everything else out.
“Are you ready?” Racop asked next candidate, Ben Schmitt. “Role camera. Go ahead and state your name.”
Schmitt does so and suddenly transforms into Alex, the main lead male character.
“Initiate voice mode! Initiate communications uplink, four-six-niner-four-seven-beta. Mission failed! My primary is dead. Repeat. Paragon is dead. Request instructions for immediate extraction, please.”
After Schmitt is finished, Racop wants him to read through the lines again. “Let’s lighten it up a nod,” he says.
Schmitt lives in Indianapolis and has been cast in movies like “The Break-Up” with Jennifer Aniston.
“I was the bartender,” he said.
Schmitt said the auditions weren’t nerve-racking.
“I don’t really get nervous a lot,” Schmitt said. In December, he says, he’ll move to Los Angeles to further pursue his passion for acting.
Two movie stars, Menina Fortunato and Geoffrey Mutch, have already been cast for the film. Fortunato was in “Star Trek: Enterprise” and was an extra in “Poseidon.” Mutch’s movie credits include “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”
An additional movie star, Racop says, is in talks to be featured in the film.
“For certain crowds, it will be huge,” he said.
Racop said “Plausible Deniability” will be filmed in Logansport and in Indianapolis. The Allison Mansion in Indianapolis will be used to shoot some interior shots.
He said the movie will take two weeks to film and a few months of editing — with a six month turnaround. He will then shop it around Hollywood.
The film will be low budget. From $75,000 to $100,000 will be spent.
Racop’s production company, MagicHouse Productions, has been involved in making films, commercials and a music video.
Racop has produced and directed several movies, including, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Starship” and “Starship 2: Rendezvous With Ramses.”
The first film he made was “The Cape Crusader.” He was only 14.
“It’s been my dream since I was 2-years-old,” he said about filmmaking. “I would always ask, ‘How do they do this?’ My dad would say, ‘Trick photography.’”
Williams helped write “Plausible Deniability.”
“We had never done an espionage film,” he said. “I was fortunate to team up with several other writers who helped us hash out ideas.”
Williams wrote down notes throughout the auditions. “Needs to be tougher,” “too inexperienced,” “great look,” “mediocre delivery” and “good humor” filled his yellow notepad.
“I am paying attention to what role they’re acting for and whether they hit that mark or not,” he said. “You want to produce the best movie possible.”
Indianapolis native Scott Ganyo was among several individuals who auditioned for Alex.
Ganyo has done stage, commercial and film work.
When asked how he thinks he did, the actor hesitated.
“I always try to avoid evaluation of my own auditions,” he said. “I do the best that I can, and then leave it behind.”
Ganyo said acting is more than just memorizing lines.
“I enjoy the psychological aspect of acting — really investigating the character, living inside another human being and getting in their head,” he said. “Sometimes, it’s the preparing I like better than the acting itself.”
Michael Scantron, who is making a living in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles, came out to Logansport in attempts to get a role in the movie.
Scantron played Val Kilmer’s dad in “Batman Forever.”
He said he is currently visiting family in Indiana.
“It’s been really hard to find projects here that are challenging and interesting,” he said.
In the auditions, Scantron brought his own props and told Racop, “I’m up for anything.”
“I really like the script,” he said. “I think he’s got something here.”
Scantron was one of many individuals at the casting call that mentioned “catching the acting bug.”
“Once you get the bug, you’ll want to do it all the time,” agreed Josh Ramsey, who also auditioned for Alex.
At the end of the auditions, Racop still wasn’t 100 percent sure who he was going to choose. He says he will call back a few individuals to audition once more.
“We have some really tough choices,” he said. “There have been really talented actors that have come in today.”
Racop says by mid-June all the actors will be in place.
He said he can’t wait for filming to begin.
“I’m 10 years younger when I’m on a film set,” Racop said.
The director said the best part of the day for him was seeing the actors come into character.
“It’s really exciting to see life come to these lines,” he said.
Melissa Soria may be reached at (574) 732-5143 or via e-mail at email@example.com
Movie auditions bring individuals from Indianapolis, Kentucky
Lights. Camera. Action.