The 2022 Semiramis Award for Excellence in Casting will be presented at the prestigious Torino Film Festival in Italy on 26th November. Running up to the event, we are posting interviews with all of this year’s nominees. Please meet Kjersti Paulsen nominated for the Norwegian film THE INNOCENTS (directed by Eskil Vogt), in conversation with ICDN Advisory Board member Florentina Bratfanof.
How did you start work for this project? How long did you work on the casting?
I heard about “The Innocents” and contacted the director, because the project was unusual, interesting and difficult. The producer, director and I agreed on the importance of finding the right children and gave it the highest priority. All other characters had to wait. I contacted organisations who engage children, schools, used my private network, local press and social networks advertising for the characters.
How long did you work on the casting? One of the great aspects of this film is the children’s casting. How long did it take to search for and find the four children: Ida, Anna, Ben and Aisha?
The process lasted for approximately 18 months. As mentioned, we started collecting candidates through open registrations, visiting schools and received selftapes with presentations. Then the process started by meeting selected children in groups, giving them tasks that they could manage playfully. During the 2nd, 3rd and 4th callbacks the tasks became more advanced. And in the end – we tried out different constellations. Then we started casting the adult roles.
As the casting process is an extremely collaborative affair, please name three people that supported this casting process and why.
First of all I have to thank the director Eskil Vogt for his open-minded approach and our excellent cooperation. Then the producer from Mer film AS, Maria Ekerhovd, for giving the process real priority in all senses. We also had several workshops with the young and adult actors before shooting. And my faithful assistant Sacha Slengesol Balgobin (a trained actress) who was an excellent co-player along the way.
Can you tell us about a difficult moment in the casting process you managed to overcome? What happened?
There were several difficult moments during the process. Every new children’s group is a challenge. My job is to create an environment, where the children feel secure and can join in the role-play we bring them into. Then I need to determine the children’s capacity for empathy, their ability to listen to co-players, imagination and self-confidence.
In the end the children’s willingness to work, their stamina and discipline is decisive. My job is to examine all of this for every individual who comes into the room. If I have helped them to understand and like the world of acting for film – then we can make a choice and it is then that I have succeeded in my work.