Christa Schamberger-Young
+27 11 440 3477
Independent Casting Director
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Cape Town & Johannesburg
(The Casting Connection cc)
South Africa

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2003 to 2005 2006 to 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 201220132014
Archived News and Highlights - 2011
October 2011
The Nasty side of Alfred Hitchcock...
The legendary Alfred Hitchcock, Master of Suspense and director of the famous Psycho, reached his peak with that film, some would say. His next film was The Birds, which was at first not well received. He cast the beautiful Tippi Hedren, a sucessful New York model in the lead, and his sexual obsession with her is the subject of The Girl, a new film directed by Julian Jarrold (Brideshead Revisited, Becoming Jane,The Canterbury Tales, Kinky Boots)
Julian broke his journey to Cape Town from England to attend a full-day's call backs.

The events retold in the film took place in America during the Sixties, but some of our actors found themselves doing "accent gymnastics", since "Hitch" had taken some of his English crew with him to Hollywood.
Hitchcock spitefully held  Tippi Hedren to a personal contract after  Marnie, never using her again but also preventing her from working for anyone else for seven years. His career waned, but Tippi - now 81 years old - has made over forty films since then.

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Ben and Christa in the studio with actor Jannes Eislen wielding Christa's very first audition camera as a makeshift, very anachronistic prop!

October 2011
The Hunt for Raj continues...
So far we've auditioned about five hundred people for roles in In A Strange Land, mostly children for the role of Raj, followed by youngsters for the German-Jewish prisoner children. While we tackled KwaZulu-Natal, Dominika and Ben continued to take our studio camera to schools in Pretoria and Johannesburg, which have useful populations of South African Indians.
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Dominika supervises a "river crossing" improvisation at the Pretoria Hindu School.

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Christa showing the boys from Fordsburg Primary School how to get a heavy bucket of water out of a treacherous river.

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It may look like the Library carpet to you, but these boys are concentrating on not falling into a raging river...

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... because if they fall into the river, it's mighty cold!

The Fordsburg lads really put heart and sould into the improvisations, perhaps because they don't have Drama in their curriculum yet.


Boys and girls from the Johannesburg
German International  School listen attentively to a historical brief about the period depicted in the film In A Strange Land

September 2011
On The Road... and On The Hunt...

The hunt is on for a young Indian boy to play the lead role of Raj in the film In A Strange Land, a new film from Israeli director Avi Nesher. (Dizengoff 99,Timebomb,The Taxman, Ritual, Turn Left at the End of the World, The Secrets,The Matchmaker). ISLKZN_101.jpgIn A Strange Land is based on 'The Last Brother', a novel by Nathacha Appanah which was inspired by a little-known slice of World War II history - about 1,500 Jews were detained for most of the war in a British prison on the island of Mauritius. Avi Nesher has written a moving screenplay spanning decades, telling of the friendship between a Hindi boy and two of the Jewish boy prisoners.
To find an innocent nine-year-old capable of playing this demanding role we are searching the two biggest Indian communities in South Africa. While Dominika and Ben continue to visit schools in Gauteng, we are travelling up and down the coast of KwaZulu-Natal, visiting primary schools in the sugar-growing areas.

We are very fortunate in having the help of actress and local personality Kajal Bagwandeen Her charm, cultural knowledge and contacts within the local communities is invaluable - plus she is an excellent organiser and GPS navigator!

July 2011
Feast & Famine?
This page has been static for many months - since November 2010 in fact. There are several reasons. Firstly, the beginning of 2011 was the quietest in at least a decade. Perhaps it was the shadow of the 2010 Soccer World cup "hole" in local productions, perhaps it was the spectre of WEM (World Economic Meltdown) that made producers hesitant to commit to production. Currency fluctuations can buckle the most tightly budgeted production and noticeably tighter budgets meant that producers could not even afford to look for Cast outside Cape Town, where most foreign companies are based when shooting in South Africa. Several productions went on "hold."

The other reason was that Christa was working "in house" on satellite channel M-Net's "groundbreaking new daily television show" and they didn't want us to talk about it. For several months our studio was visited by an eclectic mix of "wannabes" and a who's who of South African Soapie stars. The waiting area was probably a hotbed of rumour and devious answers as people still on a soapie bumped into other people also still on a soapie, wondering why each was auditioning for a part on "Landmark" as the production was then called.
WildLogoWeb.jpgEventually the in house audition venue became available, the wraps came off The Wild, and casting moved to "the fishbowl" as the rather cramped and basic glass-walled space became known. Since our studio was effectively dark and Ben Tjibe had gone with Christa as her cameraman / technical assistant, yours truly took a "real job" in the Cape in order to get some work done on a little piece of land we have there.
That didn't last...
The technical job I'd signed up for turned out to be a sales job in a vast economically depressed region, leaving me no time to achieve the personal goals I'd set myself. As the international industry revived, I also found myself working into the night, doing my technical job via the wonders of the Internet. I must say, there is something sublime about sitting in a bare wooden cabin in the Cape mountains, using a laptop to send a Johannesburg actor's audition to Hollywood via a cell-phone hanging from a nail!
April and May saw Christa and me almost commuting between Johannesburg and Cape Town for auditions, call -backs and meetings with producers about work in the pipeline. Johannesburg TV companies also seem to have re-invented themselves in the face of  a dearth of new commissions from the dysfunctional national broadcaster. Several have forged partnerships with foreign producers and have lined up a slate of  low-budget feature films.
Whether as a result of acclimatising to the new economic realities, or a feeling of  "now or never", several productions went from hold to green light during June and July, so the rest of 2011 promises to be very busy. Yes please!

Nothing but the Best
 There Lies Hope, based on the book "Kaffir Boy" written by Prof. Mark Mathabane, tells the story of his  struggle for recognition as a promising young tennis player during the Apartheid era. We had  done preliminary work on this project late in 2010, but we were fully committed to other work when "Kaffir Boy" got underway in earnest this year. Fortunately Christa was able to enlist Denton Douglas to take over the day to day running of the casting. Denton's enthusiasm, energy and experience with youth outreach through his Church made him the ideal partner. He has also done the South African casting for  District Nine and Judge Dredd.

Producers Scott & David Hillenbrand and Prof Mathabane are determined that the making of the movie will provide some
benefit to the youth of Alexandra township. TLH_Fiona_402web.JPG
As part of their plan they have engaged Fiona Ramsay, the best dialogue and acting coach in the country.. Ms. Ramsay has coached numerous international actors working in South Africa, including Jennifer Hudson and Terrence Howard for their roles in Winnie, Sam Neill., Sophie Okenedo & Alice Krige for Skin, Hillary Swank & Chewitel Eyifor for Red Dust to mention just a few. Fiona has been flown to Hollywood to supervise ADR recording on several films and has been invited to deliver papers to specialist conferences in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Candidates for roles in "There Lies Hope" enjoy a break from classes with dialogue and acting coach Fiona Ramsay

Coaching takes place in Alexandra township, at our studio, and during  trips backstage at  the Market Theatre, internationally renowned as the home of Protest Theatre during the Apartheid era. The boys have also attended several plays at The Market, which Ms. Ramsay feels is essential to giving them a window on the wider world beyond their township.

Boetie and The Beast
Who would possibly think of mining corrupt politicians, the reality TV craze, a national obsession  with racism, big game poaching and schoolboy humour to come up with a script littered with social comment - when you can stop yourself laughing in spite of yourself? Only South Africa's highest grossing film personality, Leon Schuster, for his latest film, Boetie and The Beast. Casting has just started, and shooting will begin during September.

Vehicle 19
V19 small poster.jpgCasting often feels like looking for a needle in a haystack - when you're not sure there is a needle in the haystack. Sometimes however, one is faced with half-a-dozen very good choices, a challenging mix of experience and new talent. Which way to go? 
Then yet another candidate appears and complicates the process even further. A little experience on TV, but none on the big screen. Will she survive the pressure of the Call Backs, let alone cope with being the female lead opposite an American actor with almost cult status? Your Casting Director's intuition is shouting "YES!!" - but will the Director agree?Paul WalkerWeb.jpg

 Local writer and director Mukunda Michael Dewil's script for Vehicle 19 made it onto Hollywood’s 2010 Hit List for the years’ best original screenplay. The thriller follows Paul Walker (Fast and Furious, Takers) as an innocent bystander who becomes entangled in a world of  deadly Police corruption when he picks up the wrong rental car. The role of his unwilling passenger is a demanding one, mixing action with the challenge of giving depth to the character of a committed young prosecutor.

 After a gruelling call back session against three other contenders, Mukunda agreed - the role should go to relative newcomer Naima McLean, whose charm, poise and responsiveness never faltered under pressure.

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Although new to the big screen, Naima has had a guest role in the long running UK television series "Wild At Heart".
This accomplished young woman is also a well-travelled performance poet and singer who has appeared on stage in the UK, Europe and several African cities, including the 2011 Cape Town International Jazz Festival in March this year.

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