Clientele: The Performing Arts Community
The Centaur Casting Agency, Founded In 1996
The Origin of the CCA
In The Motion Pictures Branch Of My Creative Career, I Work As A Casting Director. And It Is A Role In Which I Had Been Unexpectedly Placed Back In December Of 1993.
Back Then, My New Boyfriend Of Only About Seven Months Or So, Joseph Strickland, Had Been Drafting The Screenplay To His First Independent Feature Film - A Psychological Suspense Thriller Titled Dual Mania. He Had Recently Parted Ways With His Original Casting Director And Had To Handle The Process On His Own. But Before The Split, The Two Of Them, Along With An Associate, Had Already Had Some Of The Principal Roles Cast, And Were Working In Association With A Second Casting Assistant Who'd Had The Job Of Handling The Extras.
But In The Wake His Split From His Original Casting Partnership, Strickland Had Asked Me To Assist Him With The Process By Way Of Answering Phones, Taking Out Ads In The Local Newspapers For Performers To Send In Their Head Shots, etc. And Surprisingly, Even Though I Was A Music Woman Who'd Had Absolutely No Interest In The Film Branch, I Soon Discovered That The Duties Of This New Venture Had Been Quite Easy For Me. It Was Just As Smooth As It Was With My Music; And I Enjoyed It. I'd Adjusted Almost Immediately. It Felt That Natural.
I'd Eased Right Into The Mix Of It All. I Began To Interact With So Many Performers Who Were Involved In Various Aspects Of The Performing Arts: Theater, Other Film Projects, TV Commercials, Voice Over Work, Radio Ads, etc. And They Were All Sending Their Head Shots And Attached Résumés In To Us As We Operated Out Of A Small Studio Apartment On Chicago's Northside.
We Had A Cork Board To Which We Pinned All Of The Headshots Of Only The Actors And Actresses Who Had Interested Strickland. For He Had Made It Very Clear As To What He Sought In Each Performer For Each Role, And I Was Quickly Learning On The Job. I'd Had A Damned Good Teacher, Though, Because Strickland Was Born With A Tremendous Gift Of Creative Vision, And The Man Knew His Craft, Not To Mention The Fact That He's A Phenomenal Storyteller.
I Read Dual Mania Four Times Over A Two-Week Period. That's How Good It Was.
Well, As Time Passed, There Were Parties In His Honor, And Much Press Done. He'd Been Interviewed By Screen Magazine, The Chicago Defender, The Chicago Tribune, And On Radio Stations And Cable TV Outlets. News Of 'Dual Mania' Had Also Went Out To The Industry Trade Publications, Including: Variety And The Hollywood Reporter.
One Day, In The Early Spring Of 1994, While I Had Been Home Minding The Phones, The Late James 'Jimmy' Spinks ("Hippo" In CAR WASH) Called To Inquire About Our Film. He'd Heard About It Through Word Of Mouth. And When I Informed Him Of As Much As I'd Been Allowed To Share, He'd Told Me To 'Tell Joe (Yeah. The Two Men Were On A First Name Basis) That He Would Have A Headshot Sent To Us.' (Smiling At The Memory) To This Day, We Still Have Jimmy's Headshot. All These Years Later.
Unfortunately, Jimmy Spinks Perished Before We Could Get The Principal Photography Started, But Strickland, Who Had Already Formed A Bond Of Communication With The CAR WASH Legend, Cast Him Without An Audition. Just On GP.
The Mission To Get The Cutting Edge Independent Feature Film Off And Running Went On All Through 1994 - The Year That Strickland And I Were Married. And Quite A Few Of Our Performers Had Dropped Out Of The Production, Tired Of Waiting.
By The Summer Of 1995, Strickland And I Had Already Moved On Up To The Higher End Of The Northside. It Had Been In The 6000 Block Of N. Sheridan Rd. Where We Newlyweds Had Gotten Ourselves A Fancy-Shmancy Highrise Condo Facing Lake Michigan. And By This Time, Joseph Strickland Had Already Garnered Fame. The Hamburg Film Festival - All The Way Over In Germany - Had Even Heard About Dual Mania. And One Of The Festival's Representatives, Hans Was His Name, Had Called (I'd Answered The Phone) To Talk To Strickland About Perhaps Entering 'Dual Mania' In The Hamburg Film Festival. But Strickland Had To Decline The Offer At That Time Because He Still Hadn't Completed Enough Of The Film To Put It Out There On The Festival Circuit.
However, They All Kept In Touch.
One Day, In The Same Summer Season Of 1995, After I'd Returned Home From Shopping For Filters, The Phone Rang. When I Answered It, A Man's Voice Requested To Speak To Joe. So When I Asked, 'Who's Calling?,' The Man Replied, 'This Is Stedman Graham. Whom, May I Ask, Am I Speaking To?' And I Replied, 'Hi, Mr. Graham. My Name Is Kimberly; (Kimberly Is My Birth Name, Folks. Cat Is My Nickname) I'm His Wife. But You May Call Me Cat.' To That, He Replied, 'Hello, Cat. Is Your Husband In?' To Which I Replied, 'No, Mr. Graham, He Isn't At The Moment. But I Can Have Him Return Your Call. Does He Have Your Number?' Stedman Graham Replied, 'He Sure Does. Just Ask Him To Call Me When He Gets In.' My Reply: 'I Sure Will. You Have A Great Day.' Stedman Graham: 'You As Well, Cat.'
I Was Too Through When I Hung Up That Phone.
The Casting Process Had Been Just About Completed In The Late Summer/Early Fall Of 1995. All We Were Missing Were The Two Main Characters - The Leading Man And The Leading Lady.
The Search Continued. More Auditions (There Had Been Tons Of Them), More Phone Calls (Hundreds), And More Headshots, Piling Up.
The Search Continued.
Wherever We Could Find Places Opened To Hold Our Auditions, It Had Been In Those Places That We Held Them: At Our Condo; At Columbia College; At Fast Food Restaurants; At Some Of The Performers' Homes; At Pizza Hut; At Roosevelt University; At The Signature Room Atop The John Hancock Building; At Truman College - Where I'd Set Up An Audition For Actress Kiele Sanchez, etc.
The Search Continued.
A Few Days Later, In The Wake Of The Stedman Call, I Had Been At Home Drinking Coffee And Watching The Waves Out On Lake Michigan From Our Living Room's Huge Windows, When The Phone Rang. When I Answered It, The Woman Who Spoke Greeted Me With A Friendly, Smooth And Syrupy Voice, Asking If She Could Speak To Joe. When I Told Her That He Hadn't Been In And Asked Who Was Calling, That I Could Take A Message, The Woman Said, 'This Is Robin Robinson. Joe Called Me Today, But I Had To Go On The Air, So I Couldn't Get Back With Him Until Now.' I Asked Her, 'Robin Fox32 News Robinson?' To Which She Replied, 'Yeah, That's Me. Who Is This?' And I Said To The Greatly Beloved Lady, 'Oh, I'm His Wife, Cat. How Ya Doin', Robin?' And She Said, 'Girl, I'm Alright. Your Husband Called Me About Making A Cameo Appearance In His Movie.' I Told Her, 'Yeah, I Know. He Just Love Him Some Robin Robinson.' We Both Laughed As The Conversation Went On A Few Seconds Longer Before She Had To Get Back On The Air. But I Told Her That I Would Let Him Know She Called Before We Disconnected.
It Went On Like That. Film Producer Reps Called, Studio Execs Called, 20th Century Fox Called, Paramount Pictures Called, New Line Cinema Called, Warner Bros. Called, The Media Called, Film Festivals From Around The World Called, People In The Industry On Both Coasts Called, Film Labs Called, And So On, And So On.
By September Of 1995, I Had Been Conceived With Strickland's And My First Child. But I Continued Working To Cast The Final Two Roles.
For Our Leading Man, A Veteran Chicago Theater Actor Named Joe Plummer Was Auditioned And Cast Immediately, Because He Had Been Nothing Short Of Perfection. But His Leading Lady Would Take Just A Bit Longer To Find.
In February Of 1996, I Had Been Looking Through A Stack Of New Headshots, When I Came To Hers. I Knew She Had Been The One No Sooner Than My Eyes Froze Within Their Sockets On Her. I Quickly Went To The Cork Board And Took Down Plummer's Head Shot So That I Could Match The Two Up. I Turned The Lady's Headshot Over To Read Her Résumé On The Back Of It: Height, Weight, Age, etc. And She Was Perfect! The Name On The Lovely Actress's Headshot Read Sherrice Eaglin. And I Could Just Feel It - That She And Plummer Would Work.
When Strickland Walked In Moments Later, I Pointed To The Hardwood Floor Where I'd Had Sherrice's Headshot Alongside Of Plummer's, And Said To Him, 'That's Our Leading Lady.'
We Went To Work On The Phones. Our Mission: To Contact Sherrice So That We Could Get Her In To Read With Plummer For The Screen Test. We Found Her. She Auditioned. Both She And Plummer Had Tremendous Chemistry; It Felt Just Right.
Dual Mania's Casting Process Was Finally Completed. The Crew Were Ready. All Of Our Locations Were Ready. It Was Time To Shoot.
And I Was Quite Proud Of My Unique And Distinctive Cast - Great As It Was.
I Should Perhaps State That Diversity Is Key Where My Casting Duties Are Concerned. And As A Casting Director, I Will Always Assemble Multi-Cultural Ensembles. Always.
In Late August Of 1996, Principal Photography Got Underway.
Between Filming, Strickland Had Been Invited To Be A Judge In The 32nd Chicago International Film Festival (1996). And In 1997 & 1998, He Was Also Invited To Be An Adult Jury Panel Judge In The 14th Annual And 15th Annual Chicago International Children's Film Festivals - An Invitation That Had Been Personally Extended By None Other Than Former Chicago First Lady, The Late Maggie Daley, Who'd Chaired The Event.
By The End Of March, 1999, The Independent Feature Film That Could Titled Dual Mania, Was In The Can. It Was Done.
The Film Had Even Had It's Own Website: DualMania.net. And It Was A Really Nice Site That Had Been Designed By Both Strickland And His Decades Long Business Partner And Associate Producer, Jamil Chughtai.
(Smiling At The Memories) To This Day, We Still Have Every Production Still That Had Been Featured On The Site In A Special File.
Dual Mania Was Finally In The Can. It Was Done.
Anytime Any Filmmaker On The Face Of The Earth Gets A Film In The Can, He Or She Did It. Even If They Shoot Just One Scene, They Did Something. Because As I Now Know From Experience, Getting A Picture Made - Especially An Independent Picture - Is A Lot Of Hard Work. A Lot Of Hard, Stressful Work. But In The End, The Rewards Are Indescribable. And Joseph Strickland, A Genuinely Talented Visionary And Auteur, Got His "Baby" In The Can. Bit By Bit. Piece By Piece. And With A Lot Of Stopping And Going Over A Three-Year Period. With Many A Tear Shed, And With Many Dropping Out Only To Be Replaced. With The Faithful Cast And Crew Who Stayed The Course. Strickland Got His "Baby" In The Can.
It Had Been Both A Great Blessing And Privilege To Have Worked Alongside Of My Husband During The Entire Process. For Everything That I Now Know About Film And Film Making, Which Is Quite A Bit, I Learned From Him. And I Came Away From The Experience With A Whole New Respect For Both The Craft And The Filmmaker In General.
Thank You For The Opportunity, Baby. There Is Only One You. And I Love You With Everything In My Being - Even The Marrow Of My Bones.
• Note: For Information On Dual Mania, Please Consult The Film's IMDb Page.
The Centaur Casting Agency, The Second Eldest Of My (3) Established Entities, Was Founded On Monday, June 3, 1996, A Little Over Two Months Before DUAL MANIA Went Into Production.
The Agency Was Named For My Zodiac, Sagittarius. And It Was To Be An Agency That Would Serve To Be A Blessing To Many Talented Men, Women And Children In The Performing Arts.
And Truly So, It Will Continue To Be.