Rack up Your Roster

As the baseball season (spring training season anyway) gets underway, the fantasy draft is in full swing. What about the writers’ version of the same? One way in which authors approach wish fulfillment and play at setting up their own empires is to develop a scrapbook of the ideal cast of a movie version of their work. Of course, you would have to be the world’s luckiest and most influential casting director/executive producer/director to get all the actors you want for that movie, not to mention having command of the company with the deepest pockets on the planet, but the same is true of the various sports teams that are created by fantasy moguls. That’s what fantasy is for, to explore all the possibilities with the utmost freedom.

When I was posting actively on Writing.com a few years back, I found making digital scrapbooks (really illustrated synopses) to be an inspiration for works in progress. I also found it great fun. In a few cases, I went so far as to make what I call “bootleg trailers.” These concoctions would never see the light of day (or rather YouTube) because they shamelessly appropriated copyrighted material. Out of respect for other artists (and the various laws that pertain), I declined to share these works publicly. However, I did describe in detail my efforts to develop a bootleg trailer for the first two entries in my “Hob Scourge” series in my personal website .

My own rules for finding talent for my fantasy cast are as follows:

  • The actors must be of the appropriate age, gender, race, and general body type
  • In the photo to be used for the scrapbook or trailer, the actor must be dressed (insofar as possible) in clothing that would suit the character
  • The actor’s pose and facial expression should either support the character or be neutral
  • The setting should be either neutral or echo a setting from the book

Finding the right photos can be difficult. Some actors who seemed perfect for the part had to be discarded because I could never find the right photo. For others, the search was long. For example, when I cast Topher Grace as sad-sack Jonah in Still Life Without You, I discovered that the vast majority of photos show him smiling too warmly. Elizabeth Banks either dressed too well or too scantily for the most part to fit Elsa in The Troughton Line. I almost gave up on Christina Ricci as Sugar Daniels from Shoals Court until I stumbled across a photo of her looking startled and frazzled and wearing a necklace that seems out of place on her, perfectly in character.

Along with acting talent, I also sometimes gathered photos of objects important to the story, such as the cars from Soleville and the golden toe ring from Still Life Without You.

Music for a bootleg trailer does not have to follow the same rules as that for a video trailer that will be publicly posted. For my public videos, I use royalty free Creative Commons music that is licensed for all uses. For bootlegs, I dig through my home music collection. It was hearing Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” that inspired me to develop my bootleg trailer for Shoals Court but I used a different piece, Sarah McLachlan’s “Possession,” for the final project.

The greatest danger in making scrapbooks and bootleg trailers is that they can eat up all the time you should be spending on your work…just like writing posts for this blog…

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