Based off the beloved novel by Louisa May Alcott, this modern adaptation of "Little Women" opened in theatres nationwide today! It stars Lea Thompson (Back to the Future, Switched at Birth), Lucas Grabeel (High School Musical, Switched At Birth), Ian Bohen (Teenwolf), and Sarah Davenport. You can watch the movie trailer below :) I will be seeing it on Oct. 2nd. I'm so excited!
I have always wanted to be in a movie. Not necessarily as a big celebrity superstar, though that would be pretty cool. But knowing that there is a realistic possibility I can be cast as a background extra, and that there are some opportunities out there within reach...I gotta take advantage of it! For the experience. I've always wanted to see all the behind-the-scenes action for a movie first-hand. Well, I can check that one off my bucket-list now! The movie was filmed primarily in Utah, which is where a lot of my family lives--and I happened to live only a few hours away at the time. My husband was deployed for a year in Iraq (so I moved from rural Montana to be close to my parents), and amidst the tough separation, this was a great spirit booster for me.
February 2017. I found out about the film when I googled "auditions in Utah". The producers of Little Women sent out a nationwide open casting call, asking for online video auditions. They were casting the main roles and everything. I researched the role of "Beth" and got really excited. I felt like I was so much like her! Quiet, kind, musical...and I could totally pull off the cancer patient look. I downloaded the sides for Beth (excerpts from the script they want you to audition with), and started practicing. I have done a lot of stage theatre, in which the acting is big and exaggerated. This was my first time auditioning for film, and I like how it feels more natural. How the camera can pick up subtle facial expressions and soft-spoken dialogue.
After submitting my audition and anxiously waiting for a few weeks, I got the email I was really hoping to get. I made callbacks! I was thrilled. Over 1,300 video auditions were received and only 100 were called back for a second audition in-person. I decided to take a few online film acting lessons, which was fun (I actually currently teach singing, acting, and audition prep through this same company now; you can sign up for lessons at https://takelessons.com/profile/clarissa-a2). My instructor was really helpful in prepping me for my audition. I also wanted to familiarize myself with the original novel and the character of Beth, as much as possible. So I listened to an audiobook version (first time hearing the story, I admit; I surprisingly never read it in school). I also rented the 1994 movie with Wynona Ryder, as well as the version filmed in 1949. I enjoyed watching the movies, but I appreciate how much more detail you get from the book. Even though Little Women was written almost 150 years ago, and so much has changed in the world, there are so many life lessons and values taught in this book that are still applicable today. So much wisdom--I love it!
The Callback Audition
After a few weeks of preparation, I drove to Orem for my audition. But first, I needed to run to Wal-Mart "real quick," and I decided to buy a new outfit--something that "Beth" would perhaps wear. I hurried to my sister-in-law's to change (she babysat my kids). Auditions were being held about 15 minutes away. On my way I hit construction and then got lost (city driving is a little stressful for me, especially when I'm not as familiar with the area). It took me a little while to find the small, inconspicuous building. So I'm trying hard not to cry (don't want to ruin the makeup, you know?), because being late is definitely not a good first impression (unfortunately, it's a chronic problem for me). But I made it. I tried to calm my nerves. Teeth check. Hair and makeup was fine. And then I took a deep breath and walked in. Come to find out that I wasn't 10 minutes late after all (phew!)....apparently actors could come anytime within a set window. Just had to write your name on a list once you got there, and then you'd be called back in that order. There were a few other girls in the waiting room, and of course, we sized up our competition as we all looked at each other. I carefully studied my audition sides (they didn't need to be memorized though). Tried to focus and think of my character.
And then it was my turn. I was sent to a small room. I happily greeted the writer/director, and her producer husband, and gave them my headshot. There was also a man with a camera to film each audition, which helps with the casting decisions. My reader was Maclain Nelson, one of the producers. He wrote and directed "Once I Was A Beehive," which also starred his wife--Clare Niederpruem. Maclain stars in "The Saratov Approach," which I had just decided to watch the night prior. So it was pretty cool to see him in person after just watching the movie....and to do a scene with him! I felt like I did well, but I know I could have done better. I didn't mess up or anything; however, it was an emotional scene and I wish I had engaged more fully like I had when I rehearsed. The tears just didn't come this time. But, when I finished my audition, Clare smiled and said, "that was really good. That's all we need to see right now." And then I thanked them and left. And that was it. No further questions, conversation, or direction (sometimes a director will have you redo a part to see how well you take direction). So it could have been a good or bad sign. I emailed them the following day to thank them for the opportunity to audition. They replied with, "Thanks for coming! No matter what happens, know that anyone who made it to callbacks is very talented. Keep up the good work." To me that kind of made it sound like I didn't get a part--when people say, "you're still talented though". But I know I read way too much into everything, I over-analyze, and second-guess myself. I had no idea, in terms of a time frame, as to when I would find out if I had been cast or not (I ended up anxiously waiting for another few weeks). That's what's hard about these kinds of things; often times only the people that made it get notified--so you could just be left waiting for a long time, to finally conclude that you probably weren't cast then. But they ended up announcing who they cast on their Facebook page.
Lights, Camera, Action!
Well, I did not get the part I had hoped for, as “Beth,” however, in June, I still got to be apart of the movie as an extra! I walked around the University of Utah campus in two scenes, portraying a college student. Sarah Davenport plays "Jo", and Ian Bohen (best known for his recurring role in"Teen Wolf")--plays Freddy. The two of them are talking as they walk on campus. In one of the scenes I did, I just walk right past them on the sidewalk, with my little backpack...and I had to keep walking for a while until they yelled "cut!" So you just see the back of me. I walked with another girl, who portrayed my friend. We had to quietly pretend that we were conversing with one another as we walked past the lead actors, and then had to say goodbye to each other as we walked our separate ways. I then pulled out my phone and pretended to be talking to someone as I kept walking. We did several takes. In another scene on campus, in the background, I sit on a bench with a notebook opened up on my lap--pretending I'm studying for a test.
Meeting Lucas Grabeel
It was so neat to see set life for the first time and be around some of the film crew and cast. Lucas Grabeel will be playing the role of "Laurie," and Lea Thompson will do an awesome job as "Marmee." (I had just finished all of the seasons of Switched at Birth, by the way, prior to auditioning--and I really liked it!). Lea Thompson wasn't on set at the time, but I got to meet Lucas Grabeel! He was just standing a couple yards from me, observing and watching the display monitor, showing what was being filmed. We weren't filming for a few minutes, so I was trying to muster up the courage and wait for the right timing to go meet him. I walked up to him and I don't remember what I said exactly, but he was really nice, and was willing to take a picture with me :)
A few days after filming, the extras casting director called me and asked if I would be the lead actress’s photo double! (“Jo” played by Sarah Davenport--who is super nice by the way). So I excitedly returned for a Christmas scene, complete with fake snow, at "the family’s home". I waited around for four hours (not able to watch the scenes being filmed outside of the house, but just chillin' inside) before they filmed the scene that I’m in (which took less than 30 minutes haha). But I was still happy and grateful to be there (and I was paid a little). I met actress Sarah Murphy, who plays "Amy" when she's older. I went through wardrobe to look like Sarah Davenport, and had fake snow put in my hair and on my coat (so hot wearing a sweater and coat in the summer!). In the scene, you’ll just see the back of me, with my hood on, walking into the house and closing the door. And now watch...my few minutes of fame will be in the deleted scenes haha. It was such a cool experience. It looks like it's going to be a great movie!
* UPDATE: I watched the movie the other night, and it was really good! Everyone did a great job. It's a sweet, wholesome, family movie. Although a little blurry, if you look closely, you can see me briefly (top right corner of the screen), in the scene where Jo and Freddy are walking on campus, with me walking in the opposite direction in the distance. And then also a quick clip of me wearing a green coat, with the hood on, acting as a photo double for Jo, walking inside the house at Christmas time.
Here is a music video I put together of a song I wrote, called "Believe." The producers of "Little Women" held a competition for original music to be in the film--and I almost made the top 10!
Words and music by Clarissa Allred
Vocal- Clarissa Allred
Guitar- Chad Southwick
Arrangement- Clarissa Allred & Jacob Southwick
Videography & Editing- Clarissa Allred & Jeremy Allred