A Cast It Success Story: Part 2

Jonathan Daniel Brown was discovered through a Cast It Talent open call.

Many actors go through the grueling audition process day in and day out, but until they actually score a big role, they can only wonder about what happens after you get it.  Winning that coveted role opens the big golden gates to the mysterious world of the working actor. I followed up with Jonathan Daniel Brown, aka ‘JB’ of Project X and star of next year’s Kid Cannabis, on life as an actor. He answers the question: what happens next?

Jonathan, a born and raised Angelino, fell into acting when he won a highly competitive role in Project X through Cast It Talent’s online open call. He had not been to any auditions prior to his ‘JB’ online audition, competing against thousands for the one role. He has since won a starring role in Kid Cannabis, an independent feature due out in 2013. “Kid Cannabis was a dramatic role, which was my first real true lead role as opposed to Project X, where the party was the star of the movie. This was me as the lead and at first it was really intimidating, but I realized I either had to catch up or be left behind. So I just dived in. The best way to not get fired is to do your job.” He talked about his experience with auditions. “You get a lot of no’s.” “The thing is, an audition has never felt like acting for me, which is what makes them so brutal. Acting on set versus acting in an audition, they are entirely different experiences in every single way. It’s a different feel, it’s a different world.” To prepare for an audition, Jonathan likes to have a friend read with him until it is embedded in his memory. “It’s not really about knowing the lines as much as knowing the entire scene.” He talks about having to put in the hours to prepare, not getting stuck on performing a scene any one particular way, and being able to take direction in the audition room.

I asked Jonathan about what happens between the audition, finding out you got the role, and the first day on set. “The agents and managers and lawyers do all the business stuff. Basically, they are getting a contract ready and signing it. Once that’s done and locations are set, you wait. Your representation helps you with all of the business stuff. And then you make a movie and it’s awesome.”

Next comes the preparation on the actor’s part. I talked to Jonathan about what he does to prepare for each role. “For my character in Project X, there was a lot of slapstick humor; he’s kind of a quiet guy. I was playing someone like myself, just a lot quieter and awkward. Project X was a blur because we were shooting 25 straight nights of 5pm to 7am, get up at 3pm, go to work at 4pm, work and go home to sleep at 7am and do it all over again.”

“Cannabis was shot in a month. It was a pretty crazy experience because it was non-stop work, 16 hour days. To prepare for the scene you just had to catch up. When you have such a quick schedule and little time and you have a huge movie to make, you don’t have the luxury of sitting in your trailer for hours preparing a scene. You just get it. The director for Cannabis wanted a raw and authentic performance, so it worked. Not many rehearsals. It was very fast-paced, very exciting. It’s going to be incredible. It’s a million awesome things.”

Jonathan explained his least favorite part of filming. “Just waiting, because you do a lot of waiting, because they’re setting up or fixing lights, or if you’re not in that scene, you’re waiting. You have to be very patient because when you’re making a movie it’s collaborative. It’s not just about you as an actor- there’s a director, PAs, an entire crew, and you have to be mindful of them. And sure, you have to wait around for a couple of hours doing nothing when you wish you could call it a day. It kind of sucks, but hey, you’re making a movie.” While waiting around set to film his scenes, Jonathan would pass the time by going on social media sites, reading, playing video games, and socializing with cast and crew. When he was not shooting, he was exploring the locations, most recently in British Columbia. He was grateful for the break from LA to Victoria, a town about an hour outside of Vancouver. “You meet the people and see the town, and it was really incredible.”

While he cannot reveal details about Kid Cannabis, he is very eager for people to look into it and see it. “It’s a crazy, crazy movie and it’s fun and I’m really excited for it.” For Project X, however, he is happy to share some insider details about filming. “We were destroying a real house. It was on a film set but it was a house with running water, it had air conditioning, and everything a house has, and we trashed the place. For the sake of continuity and making it easier to film, we shot it pretty much in order.” He says of the filming technique in party scenes, “Flip cameras were handed out to extras to get all of the crazy party footage.” Despite long hours and grueling work days, he enjoyed every minute of filming. “Filming can be a blur. It’s weird because I can remember doing things on specific days but when I think of Project X as a whole, I don’t think of it as it being on day 4 or day 12, it was one big experience.”

I asked Jonathan about what he believed was the most important thing he learned from all of his acting experiences. His reply was simple yet easy for many to forget. “Be nice to everybody. Not everybody knows that, especially some actors. Be nice to everybody. You’re not better than anybody else just because you’re acting in something. You’re not better than PAs, interns, the crew, craft service. You’re collaborating and making something together and you have to treat it as a collaborative art. And not as something that’s just about you. You have to put your ego away and be nice to everybody. Otherwise a lot of people are going to hate your guts.”

Since he just wrapped filming and returned home to Los Angeles, Jonathan has been keeping busy. He has been auditioning, going to meetings, and working on a writing project that is in early development. While he cannot say any more about his writing, he does express his excitement about it. Upon asking about acting classes, he admitted that he is not currently enrolled, but he does highly recommend taking them. “I shied away from them for a long time because I thought I could do my thing and discover it myself. Acting is something that requires a lot of looking into yourself and figuring out what you want to pull out. A good class can help accelerate that process. There are a lot of good classes and a lot of crappy ones, so you just have to do your homework.” Jonathan is eager to jump back into acting and growing as an actor. “I’m learning just as much as everybody else. It’s always a new experience.”

Check out Part 1 of the Jonathan Daniel Brown Interview at https://www.castittalent.com/blog/2012/08/the-cast-it-success-story-part-1/

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lauren began her casting career as an intern for Sarah Finn Casting on films such as Captain America, Cowboys & Aliens, TRON: Legacy, and Faster. After her six month internship, she returned for her final semester of college, where she went on to become a casting director in Wilmington, NC on various independent films. She also spent over a year as a casting assistant with an independent casting director and acted in multiple films. She is currently working with Marcia Ross & Erin Toner Casting and also works as an actor and in production.

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