One of the biggest lessons for first-time filmmakers is to allow for the divine to come on set and co-create, for me that came in the form of the amazing actor Michael Andolini.
Fear and control will close the door to the unexpected and yet sometimes, collaborating with it can produce beautiful fruit. This is the story of one of those times and how the character of “Marvin the Mobster,” came about in front of the camera just hours before he was created.
It was the day of our big all night shoot and my male lead asked if he could bring his cousin on set.
This being my first film and all, I was weary of having people just show up – luckily, I had an awesome cinematographer in the form of John Honore who’s calm demeanor and expertise gave me the confidence I needed to trust the process and thereby allows for the unexpected to be explored, and even welcomed.
Michael Andolini is a delicious site for a director – that’s for sure. He was camera ready and appeared to have just stepped out of wardrobe with a classic Bogart/Goodfellas look. I thought he must have just gotten off a film set – turns out that’s just how he dresses, all the time!
This, combined with a great personality, kindness, cool, charm, and movie star good looks inspired me to write a character for him right there and then.
Again, I was fortunate enough to have a great AP who I could run the idea by and get the go ahead and a cinematographer who was not frazzled by my suddenly introducing a new character. And that’s how the scene between Marvin and Lyle came about, and it turned out to be one of my absolute favorites. In fact, I was so inspired by his work that I wrote an additional scene for him, one that became an integral part of the film.
If you are lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with a polished and rugged professional like Michael Andolini I hope you will take advantage of it, for few things bring a director as much delight as working with and being inspired by great talent.
Beware, however, as last minute character introductions and improvising are not generally recommended unless of course, you are working with top notch veteran actors like Andolini and Riquelme. Actors who appreciate the challenge of learning new dialogue, who take direction well and have had enough training to trust themselves and are comfortable with the characters they have created, even if it was just a red hot minute ago.
An actor with the winning combination of ease, authenticity, sizzle, and style is a director’s dream and not easy to find, mine just happened to walk on my set, and luckily, he has them in spades.