With Disney’s Prom making its way to DVD and Blu-Ray November 2nd, director Joe Nussbaum (pictured top left) had a few things to say about the film’s DVD release and recalls the casting process of the movie.
Prom follows a group of high school students as they learn the complex truths of growing up, balancing relationships and enjoying the most memorable time of their lives.
Note: This interview was conducted in-house by Disney and not by a staffer of Cut Print Review.
How much do you think about the DVD release when you start work on a movie?
I think about the DVD when I’m tackling all aspects of the movie’s production, although it’s especially relevant during the editing process. If we have to cut a scene from the big-screen version of the movie, it’s heartening to know that it’s not gone forever; it will carry on as a deleted scene on the DVD.
What can you tell us about the deleted scenes of Prom?
There are a number of fun deleted scenes on the DVD. Jordan and Simone never meet in the movie, but there was a scene where Jordan confronts Simone about her relationship with Tyler that you will see on the DVD. There’s also a great scene with Jesse trying on a tuxedo at a tux shop. Tyler and Jesse are another couple of characters that never meet in the movie, but they do in this deleted scene.
What other extras can we find on the DVD?
There is a blooper reel, which is really fun. And there’s also a short film chronicling the continued adventures of Lloyd, which is hilarious. Lloyd asks a few more girls to prom and things go wrong in typical hilarious ways. We also see Tess campaigning for him and trying to get him a date, which is really funny.
How much involvement did you have in the casting process for Prom?
I was closely involved in the casting of the movie. I didn’t see as many people as the casting director, but I sat in on hundreds of auditions and I think we did extremely well with our casting choices. You know right away when you’re confronted with an actor who isn’t right for the role, and you know right away when you’ve found the perfect person. However, there is also a lot of gray in between where you hope that the chemistry will be there when you get an actor on set with the right co-star.
How does the casting process work?
Casting directors like to organize casting sessions where different actors come into the room every five or ten minutes. However, I like to spend a little longer with the actors because I like to talk to them and I like to get to know them. I also like to dig in and work the scene because I don’t want to let anyone out of the room if there is any chance they might be the right person for the role.
What advice would you give to actors walking into a casting director’s audition room for the first time?
The first thing to do is to try and relax because being nervous doesn’t help anyone. Most people don’t perform better when they’re nervous, so relax and try to do whatever got you there in the first place. Dig into the character and try to do what you think is right for the character because nine times out of ten that will be better than guessing what a casting director or a movie director wants.
Is there one question you always ask people walking into the audition room?
I always start with a simple conversation starter like, “Where are you from?” I like to get to know everyone, so that helps us ease into the audition – but then I always ask people what they think about the script and what they think about their character in the project.
What kind of response are you looking for?
I like it when people have studied the role and say what they really think about the character. Sometimes I’ll say to them, “That’s dead on. That’s exactly what I think.” Or sometimes I’ll say, “Well maybe you should think of it this way too.” I try to help people if I feel that they’re going in the wrong direction for the audition, or I might even end up saying, “Wow, that’s brilliant. I never even thought of it that way.” Sometimes the process is as eye opening for me as it is for the actor.
How important is it for actors to research each role?
It’s incredibly important to know as much as you can about the role and the character before you step into the audition room. Additionally, it’s also important to know about the director of the project if you can, so look them up online and see what other work they’ve done. Do your homework.
(L-R) Danielle Campbell, Joe Nussbaum, Nolan Sotillo and Cameron Monaghan on the set of Prom.
Doing homework sounds like a chore but the more homework you do in life, the more successful you’ll be. Just look at directors like Judd Apatow. He’s a genius. He’s super successful and super talented – and he’s incredibly motivated. When Judd was a struggling comedy writer, a stand-up comedian asked him to write 10 jokes for him. So the next day Judd gave him a hundred jokes. That’s the kind of commitment you need in this business. You have to work as hard as you possibly can.
Is it important to be friendly when you walk into an audition room?
Definitely. You need to offer a good vibe and be positive because you want to be the kind of person that people want to work with. Try not to have a sense of entitlement. Most people don’t in their early career, but a few do and it’s a little shocking when that happens. Try to make a friend in the casting room, not an enemy.
How tough is the entertainment industry?
The entertainment industry is incredibly tough. The chances that you’re going to get the role are poor because you’re always going to be one of many people auditioning – but your chances are higher if you can make a good impression. I can’t tell you how many times an actor has walked out of an audition and I’ve turned to the casting director and said, “They are not right for this role, but they can act. Thank you for bringing me someone who can really act. I’ll remember them the next time.” It’s important that people make impressions like that.
What made Aimee Teegarden stand out from the other girls auditioning for the role of Nova in Prom?
Nova is such a tough part to play, but Aimee nailed it immediately. When you’re casting an actor, you usually want to see a heavy emotional scene or a comedic scene to find out if they have it. However, I added an extra scene to the Nova audition because I wanted to see how well each actress could handle a regular scene without any comedy or emotion. I chose to add the scene in the movie where Nova talks to the prom committee in the shed. I wanted to see if they could give this important speech about how great prom is going to be – and Aimee nailed it. She was perfect.
How did Thomas McDonell win the role of Jesse?
Thomas sent in a tape, and it took everybody by storm. The casting women went crazy for it and our female executives went crazy for it, so we flew him over to read with Aimee. When we saw the two of them work together, they were amazing. As soon as they walked out of the audition room, I turned to everyone and said we’d found our Jesse. Everyone nodded their heads in agreement. It was an awesome moment.
Who else stood out at the Prom auditions?
Everybody that we cast stood out, but there were certainly some interesting moments during the auditions. Joe Adler came into audition for a character with one line in the movie, but the way he said that one line was so funny that it made me burst out laughing at the top of my lungs. He was hilarious. We were searching for the right person to play Rolo at that point, and we knew that he would be perfect if he could make us laugh with just one line. The rest, as they say, was history.
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