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Darien Casting Director Challenged By Young Filmmaker

Stephanie Holbrook of Darien cast the actors for a new film, "Jane Wants a Boyfriend,'' directed by Will Sullivan, who is also a Darien native. The move will make its debut this weekend at the Greenwich Film Festival.
Stephanie Holbrook of Darien cast the actors for a new film, "Jane Wants a Boyfriend,'' directed by Will Sullivan, who is also a Darien native. The move will make its debut this weekend at the Greenwich Film Festival. Photo Credit: Contributed

DARIEN, Conn. -- Will Sullivan dialed up an old school tact to develop the cast for his new movie. A cold call to fellow resident and casting director Stephanie Holbrook paid big dividends.

Sullivan’s movie, “Jane Wants a Boyfriend,’’ debuts Saturday at the Greenwich Film Festival. Holbrook, who has cast actors for a number of films, was taken aback -- and impressed -- by Sullivan’s approach.

“I started my career cold-calling casting offices so there’s a soft spot in my heart for someone bold enough to give that a try,’’ Holbrook said. “ He had such an interesting and important piece of material to talk about, which obviously piqued my interest. He made specific comments about my body of work that he seemed to be familiar with and complimented my casting sensibilities, which always helps in a cold call. Let’s not underestimate the power of a good buttering up!”

Holbrook accepted the challenge of finding an actor for Sullivan, whose film is a romantic comedy about a young woman, Jane, looking for love in New York City. Despite dealing with the everyday challenges of being on the autism spectrum, Jane looks to her older sister, Bianca, to help find her first boyfriend. Jane is played by Louisa Krause, and Eliza Dushku plays Bianca.

“The project was immediately interesting to me because of the subject matter,’’ Holbrook said. “Like many of the independent films I’ve chosen to cast, it was an opportunity to help tell a story that needed to be told. Will was so passionate about the material and had such a clear vision of how he would bring it to life.”

Holbrook said because of the subject matter, she carefully chose the candidates for the lead role. It was one of the more challenging assignments in her career as a casting director.

“I think our whole team was so determined to find an actress who didn’t seem to be playing a part but embody someone with autism in a genuine way that would honor such a person,’’ Holbrook said. “Will was so generous with the actors, knowledgeable about the subject matter and excellent about helping focus performances. Louisa Krause is fearless and is an extraordinary listener. She always knocks you out in an audition, and she didn’t disappoint here. What ended up on-screen is real and touching and fun to watch. She knocked me out again.”

Holbrook said Sullivan was in frequent contact with Autism Speaks to help handle the movie sensitively and authentically. “I think there was a real sense of responsibility on the part of the whole team to do this right,’’ Holbrook said.

Holbrook viewed the final project in a screening at the Darien Library. She was impressed with Sullivan’s work and believes everyone will see more from the young filmmaker.

“Will is young but so smart, so shrewd, so articulate, so brave,’’ Holbrook said. “He’s already a true collaborator. The kid is going places.”

The film premieres on Saturday, June 6, at 8:15 p.m. It will also be shown on Sunday, June 7, at 1 p.m. at the event. Click here for more more information about the film. Click here for more information about the Greenwich Film Festival.

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