This is a very exciting time here in the Chaldea studios. After three years of writing scripts, illustrating characters, building and decorating sets, creating costumes, and producing a pilot, we are finally beginning the process of casting for our first two seasons.
This leads me to think, “Hey, maybe you’d like to know more about how we do casting.” Of course, we all have a general idea of what casting is, but how does it work exactly? What are the steps?
First, Chaldea is an odd animal, what with its blend of comics and film. A crucial element of this mixed media is that the comic book rendition of a character look like a reasonable facsimile of the actor who plays said character. For example, compare Reiswitz as a comic book character to Reiswitz in the film, played by actor Stefan Hajek.
To illustrate Reiswitz this way, we had to first cast Stefan as the character and take reference photos of him. That’s pretty obvious, right?
But our Chaldea script for the first two seasons has over TWO HUNDRED characters in it. And that’s just characters with lines—it doesn’t count all the extras. And we just don’t have the time and money to cast that many characters and take reference photos of them all. (Although I’ll admit, we did think about it.) As we developed our understanding of how the production would likely unfold, we grudgingly admitted to ourselves that most characters in our story will likely never be on film. Our story might have 200 characters, but the vast majority of those characters have limited screen time. And even though we love each and every one of them, a story is best when it focuses on a handful of characters who drive the action.
Another factor in our thinking was that in the world of voiceover (VO), the most talented VO actors can often perform several roles. Ergo, we can save some money and simplify our lives a bit by divorcing ourselves from the notion that there are as many actors as characters.
As we grew to understand our own production, we realized we should divide our characters into two groups. One group of characters lives purely in the world of comics. We don’t need to draw these characters in the likeness of any particular actor, so our art studio is free to “run wild” with them, and in fact is already doing so. We will still need VO actors to do the voices of these characters, though, so we call these characters—appropriately enough—VO characters. Of the 200+ speaking characters in the first two season of Chaldea, about 150 of them are VO characters.
The other characters are the characters with the most screen time or, in couple of cases, are simply characters we know we’re going to film. Like Reiswitz, these are characters we need to cast with actors who can not only do voiceover work, but who are comfortable being filmed (even if we don’t actually have plans to film them—YET), and who are willing to let us use their likeness for the character in comic book form. We call these roles VOLO characters, which stands for Voice Over with Likeness rights and an Option to film.
In my next blog, I’ll go into more detail on the casting of VOLO characters by working with a casting director.
Peter D. Adkison
March 12, 2016