Thursday, May 7, 2009

INTERVIEW WITH JEFF OLAN~CASTING DIRECTOR & PRODUCER BY DENISE VASQUEZ


I've known Jeff Olan as a Casting director for MANY years now...

YES~I've had the pleasure of working with him on projects like "Greys Anatomy" &  "Private Practice"...

The other night I went to a screening of a movie produced by Jeff Olan during the 
"Los Angeles United Film Festival"

This was my first time seeing Jeff Olans' work as a producer & I have to say, I am VERY  impressed!!!

I had soooo many questions for Jeff & he was kind enough to take a moment in his VERY busy life to answer them...

-How long have you owned Jeff Olan Casting?
I have owned Jeff Olan Casting since 2002, but before that I owned another casting company for 10 years.

-How did you get into Casting?
I was working for a women by the name of Sally Perle who cast extras for West Side Story & the remake of King Kong. I learned all I could from her.

-How long have you been in the Entertainment Industry?
My days in the entertainment business go back to when I was a DJ on WJOB in Hammond, Indiana ~ For over 20 years.

-How did you end up producing "Holy Hollywood"? 
When I was running my first Casting agency, my partner at the time & I were both interested in making movies, so we banded together, wrote a script, and set out on making our first feature film.

-How did you like producing in comparison to Casting?
Producing is wonderful in so many ways, being creative with your script and seeing it all come together. Casting is a passion, but I would produce again in a NY second ~ actually I am prepping for my next feature.

-I saw you had a writing credit in the film, How did you approach the writing for the film?
We wrote the film based on our real lives in casting and as they say write about what you know.

-I got a sense that there was a little of you in the story?
The Character Jack in the movie Holy Hollywood is based on me.

-Did you write any roles for specific people in mind?
Yes Gil Espinoza who is actually a casting assoicate of mine now at Jeff Olan Casting, I met on the streets of East LA while casting the film "American Me". And we also wrote a part for Francis Ruiz who plays Franklin as he used to work with us in the office.

-Did you have actors in mind when casting roles? 
You always go through a wish list, but for the most part after dozens and dozens of auditions, and meeting some talent through others, we narrowed our casting decisions and were happy with the end results. And of course my mother was on the wish list.

-Did you handle the casting?
I handled all the casting and actually reached out and got Mickey Rooney, Tony Tarantino, and Sal Pacino.

-All the characters & actors were FANTASTIC, but the one character that really shined was "Candy"...how did you cast that actor for that role?
 Candy was actually writen for an African American Drag Queen, but we could not find someone who would really take the roll to the heights we knew she could go so I talked to Dan Zukoski who was standing in on the movie "Teaching Mrs. Tingle" for me and asked if he would be interested. I knew he was a good actor and told him about the role. For a few minutes he was hesitant, but then was open to playing drag.

-I LOVE your stories you shared with me about Mickey Rooney, Mr. Terentino, Sal Pacino, your mom (she was GREAT by the way)...would you mind sharing with everyone else...
 I got Mickey Rooney as I knew his son Chris and actually did a favor for Mickey some years prior. He told Chris that when Jeff Olan needs any favor in return he was open to hearing how he could help. This was the perfect role for him. I knew Sal Pacino and he recommended that I met Tony Tarantino ~ they both fit the characters we had thought they would. Casting my mom was a no brainer as she did win an Academy Award in College. She is a born natural.

-How long did it take you to make "Holy Hollywood" the movie?
Our shoot was 23 days, but as I was running my casting company we had to shoot four day weekends, night and day for 5 weeks.

-Was this the first time showing the film?
The film has shown a total of 3 times, once to the cast & crew and two festivals. 

-How did you get involved with the "Los Angeles United Film Festival"?
I sit on the board of The San Fernando Valley Internation Film Festival and Jason Connell who wrote & directed "Strictly Background the movie" won top prize for best doc at our festival a few years back. He and I have stayed friends and he asked if I were interested in screening HH on a special night as he is the founder of the LA UNITED FILM FESTIVAL.

-Was this the first film you've produced?
To date this is the only feature film I produced, but I have produced a TV show called "Caught In The Act", and various shorts.

-Do you have other projects in the works?
I am a visionary and always am developing projects. I am looking at scripts and hope to produce my 2nd feature with in the year.

-Any other films you worked on you'd like to mention?
Well in the world of casting I have worked on a slew of great projects dating back to one of my favorites "Pulp Fiction".

-I overheard a number of people at the screening last night say that "Holy Hollywood" the movie would make a GREAT sitcom...I agree...any thoughts on that?
We are in talks to do just that as this has been a consideration since the get go. Turning HOLY HOLLYWOOD into a sitcom would work if we are able to do it right.

Thanks so much for taking the time out to answer my questions! Is there anything else you'd like to share?
For anyone interested in working in the business as a background artist they can check out my new web site at www.jeffolancasting.com and who knows when I am casting for my next produced feature who I will come accross for the right roll.

No comments:

Post a Comment