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Declare Your Independents: Working in Independent Films

With indie films winning Oscars and providing breakout opportunities for actors, roles in smaller-scale movies are becoming highly sought after. Directors, casting directors, and actors from the indie world share their insights on finding work in this exciting area of cinema. Moderated by Back Stage news editor Daniel Holloway.

Speakers include:

* Chris Eigemann, actor, "The Treatment," "Metropolitan," "Maid in Manhattan"
* Ellyn Long Marshall and Maria E. Nelson, casting directors, "Real Women Have Curves," "Girl Fight"
* Paul Schnee, casting director, Barden/Schnee Casting, "Pineapple Express," "Redacted," "World Trade Center"
* Whit Stillman, film director, "Metropolitan," "The Last Days of Disco," "Barcelona"


Chris Eigeman, actor-director-writer
Chris Eigeman recently wrote and directed the film "Turn the River," starring Famke Janssen, and Rip Torn. "River" was nominated for an Indie Spirit Award. As an actor, his film credits include the recent "The Treatment" as well as "Mr. Jealousy," "Kicking and Screaming," "Last Days of Disco," "Path to War," "Maid in Manhattan," "Barcelona," and "Metropolitan." In television, his credits include the series "It's Like You Know," "Gilmore Girls," and "Malcolm in the Middle."  Next spring he'll be directing his script "Midnight Sun" with Jesse Eisenberg and Colin Hanks.

Ellyn Long Marshall and Maria E. Nelson, casting directors, The Orpheus Group

The Orpheus Group (Casting) is a New York City-based company for theater, film, and television production. The incorporators, Maria E. Nelson and Ellyn Long Marshall, share over thirty years of proven professional experience in all phases of the entertainment industry.

Most recent feature films include "Amreeka" (winner of Audience Award at Cannes), "Entre Nos," "Looking for Palladin," "Padre Nuestro" (winner of 2007 Jury/Audience Award Sundance Film Festival), "Choking Man" (winner of Gotham Award), "El Cantante" starring Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony (premiered at Toronto Film Festival), "Maria Full of Grace" (HBO Films), "Pinero" starring Benjamin Bratt, "Real Women Have Curves" (winner of Audience Award/Best Film and Best Actress at 2002 Sundance Festival), "Paper Soldiers," "Girlfight" with producer John Sayles (winner Best Film, Best Director at 2000 Sundance Film Festival), "Simple Justice" (PBS), "Above the Rim" (New Line Cinema), "Condition Red," and "Caminos y Puentes."

Orpheus has worked with major New York theater companies, including Lincoln Center Institute, INTAR, and En Garde Arts, and with such leading regional companies as Crossroads Theatre, The Alley Theatre, American Music Theatre Festival, Geva Theatre, and Actors Theatre of Louisville. Credits include the pre-Broadway production of Paul Simon's "Capeman"; national and international tours of "42nd Street," "Your Arm's Too Short to Box with God," "Jesus Christ Superstar," "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," and "Five Guys Named Moe"; and the off-Broadway production of "Celia Cruz: The Musical."

Paul Schnee, casting director, Barden/Schnee Casting
Along with Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee established Barden/Schnee Casting in January 2008. They have offices in both New York and Los Angeles. Their feature credits include the upcoming "Betty Anne Waters," starring two-time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank, Academy Award nominee Minnie Driver and Sam Rockwell; "Every Day," starring Academy Award winner Helen Hunt, Liev Schreiber and Carla Gugino; "Everybody's Fine," starring two-time Academy Award winner Robert De Niro, Kate Beckinsale, Sam Rockwell and Drew Barrymore; "Peep World," starring Academy Award nominee Taraji P. Henson, Michael C. Hall, Famke Janssen, Kate Mara, and Rainn Wilson; and "New York, I Love You," starring Academy Award nominee Natalie Portman, Robin Wright Penn, Orlando Bloom, Hayden Christensen, Bradley Cooper and Academy Award nominee Ethan Hawke, to name a few.

Their TV work includes the Comedy Central hit "Important Things with Demetri Martin." Among the several independent films they've cast are the Sundance Grand Jury Prize-nominated "Brief Interviews with Hideous Men," written and directed by John Krasinski; "The Winning Season"; and "Teeth" with Jess Weixler, who won a Breakthrough Award nomination at the Gotham Awards and a Sundance Special Jury Prize win. Previous to founding Barden/Schnee, the duo worked together at New York's Hopkins Smith & Barden. As a team they previously cast films such as "Pineapple Express" and "World Trade Center," directed by three-time Academy Award winner Oliver Stone.

Whit Stillman, director-writer
Whit Stillman's first feature "Metropolitan" (1990) earned him an Academy Award nomination for best original screenplay and the New York Film Critics Circle Award for best new director. His follow-up efforts "Barcelona" (1994) and "The Last Days of Disco" (1998) helped define independent film in the '90s.

Of the former film, Roger Ebert wrote, "I've seen 'Barcelona' twice. It seemed deeper to me the second time. It appears at first to be about the casual lives of young men trying to launch their careers, but eventually (again, like [a Woody] Allen movie) it reveals darker depths and meanings. What it also does is give voice to a generation." Stillman recently returned to New York after 11 years spent abroad.

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