The Casting Process

Most of "OUT OF THE WOODS" is seen through the cracked memory of a sixty-year old reclusive mentalist as he attempts to remember and share his story with a Documentary Filmmaker. Memory rarely reports what actually happened but rather, it's shaded by the bias of what we like or don't like, and magnetized by emotion and a sense of the familiar. We remember what we want to remember and sometimes, what we don't want to remember. This complex sentiment inspired me to cast most of the story's characters with non-actors who I am personally familiar with to play the roles of Frank, Lorraine, the elder Charlie, The Filmmaker, the Man of God, Bonnie's grandmother, and the Heckler -- all of whom are non-actors.

Alicia Ivanhoe ~ Malachi Maynard

After auditioning many actresses for "Bonnie Madison", Alicia Ivanhoe appeared and I knew right away she was "Bonnie". A young woman, unafraid of her own beauty and power, Alicia gave me the confidence to cast her as a strong woman whose ambitions and dreams would be suddenly undone. One week before our first shoot date, the actor I originally cast as young Charlie suddenly bailed - claiming the demands of the role were beyond his capacity. I agreed and sadly, we parted ways. With locations secured (and paid for) on specific dates, I was under pressure to stay on schedule. When one door closes, another opens. After several whirlwind auditions, I met Malachi E. Maynard and saw in him a knd of other-worldliness married to a goofball Everyman, just the right qualities for someone who suffers amnesia and becomes someone else -- "Bill Shiner, Mind Reader." Though Charlie's sudden clairaudience causes him to read minds, I chose not to emphasize this psychic talent over what I saw as the more relevant themes of power loss and self-remembering.

Andrew Gurevich ~ Robin Coomer

Though he had never acted in films before, I cast Andrew Gurevich as "Frank Nation" for what I perceived in him as an ambiguity between insecurity and confidence. I could never tell whether Andy was naturally nervous or truly confident, an ornery complexity that served Frank's big fish in a small pond character. He flew in from his Portland home to shoot all his scenes over one long weekend; what a trouper! Robin Coomer and I have worked together in Paratheatre for the last ten years but she's not a 'film actress'; she's a singer/songwriter. I felt Robin's naturally audacious intelligence could bring Lorraine's outrageous style to life and she did not disappointment.

Mick Roche ~ Nathan Rosquist

Mick Roche (another non-actor) attended a few of my film screenings and a couple salons my wife and I occasionally host in our Berkeley home. I was intrigued by my sense of Mick as always being just out of reach, as if his inner life was more interesting than anything his outer life, or anyone else, had to offer. Whether that was true or not, this mystique compelled me to ask him to play the retired mentalist, Charlie Atterbury. Understandably hesitant at first , he eventually warmed up to the idea over a series of luncheon dates. I invited my friend Nathan Rosquist (who also appeared in my 2013 film, "The Book of Jane"), to play the Filmmaker interviewing Charlie for his PBS special. Nathan has the countenance of a young monk who observes the ways of the world, and sometimes from great distances. I felt this abstraction quality might support an engaging tension between his Observer and Charlie's Participant in an unlikely meeting of two wayward souls.

Sylvi Alli ~ Luka Dziubyna

The majestic redwoods embody their own character in this story (Samuel P. Taylor park, Marin county and Joaquin Miller park in the Oakland hills). Two characters who live in the woods, "Sylvani" and "Man of God", represent to me The Feminine and The Masculine relationship with Nature as supernatural presence. I cast my wife and long-term collaborator (since 1989), the multi-talented Sylvi Alli as Sylvani. Sylvi's one of those human chameleons who disappears into the roles she has played in many of my films. I invited my new friend, artist Luka Dziubyna, to play the Man of God out of a deep conviction he brings to anything he agrees to do. Luka's all or nothing. I admire his courage to show the humanity in his character, who some may automatically dismiss due to their own prejudice against his strident Christian religious beliefs and his uncommon apocalyptic visions of squeaky-clean, normal-looking zombies camping in the woods.

- Antero Alli



Cast & Crew

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