AVON, Ohio - Stephen Dowling came in to an open short film audition held just inside a freezing cold hallway where dozens of aspiring actors and actresses awaited their turn to try out their acting chops. Stephen holds a day job as a computer expert, but reading cold for a few open roles in this film had a new meaning.
After driving out to get a space heater to help out his potential actors, Conrad Faraj arrived with a smile, excited to cast his next film. As director, producer, and countless other roles for his latest project, the soon-to-be short film "You Will Go Darker," Faraj knows what he's looking for and who he envisions in his films.
After 10 professional years at the craft, Faraj is in Cleveland to set his film that centers around a plot of a man trying to save his sister, albeit surviving violence to achieve it.
Eager actors like Kyle Adam tried out for the first of two full days of auditions. He's been in many theatre productions, but movie auditions with multiple eyes on him from behind the casting tables woke him up to the reality of the event.
"It's really intense seeing all those suits in there. It makes you realize, oh, this is real, and this could go somewhere and they want the best," said Adam.
Why Cleveland? Faraj explains that his love for film making began with him as a young boy using his stepfather's video camera after his family had been transferred to Ohio due to his stepfather's new job.
"I love movies, I love making movies, I've always been making movies, but I didn't know a soul," said Faraj, who was originally born in Honduras and moved here when he was 12 years old.
"I started reaching out to different people with similar interests and then I reached out to the Greater Cleveland Film Commission and I started getting to know more people and ultimately getting to know a lot of interesting collaborators and just wonderful people, talented people, like-minded people and here we are," said Faraj.
'Here' is creating compelling film work starting right now.
A host of actors came in to audition Friday. One of them, Ali Ferda, made her way to Avon from Columbus. She's been in quite a few Ohio-made films since she started acting as a child.
Ferda says as an actor you have to ride out the "We'll call you" auditions to get to the "yes, we want you" versions.
"You just have to take it with a grain of salt. There are always thousands of nos before you get a yes," said Ferda.