Intern Insider: Acting Major Casts Herself behind the Camera

Casting isn't the glamorous position. It's just a name in a long list of credits. Certainly, the weight of a motion picture's success rests more on the visible shoulders of the movie stars and director. But put the wrong actors in the wrong parts, and a movie can fall apart. And it's that tension, that stress that invigorates Joanna Bateman.

Joanna Bateman on Venice Beach

“I really love the idea of casting,” Bateman says. “One of the most important things in a movie or a play is to find the right person to play the part. It would be so cool to watch people audition and say, ‘Nope, nope, nope, yes.’”

Bateman, a senior acting major, is part of this summer’s Elon in Los Angeles program, which features 28 students majoring in Communications, English, acting and music technology. While most of her three years at Elon have been focused primarily on treading the boards, she’s took a liking to putting people on those boards late in her junior year. And it’s helped her land an internship with casting director Ronnie Yeskel.

Bateman says she helped cast a short film for sophomore Media Arts and Entertainment major Clint Edmondson. Edmondson had specific people in mind for a couple of the parts in his film, but Bateman had other ideas, and Edmondson “cast everyone who I suggested. I love the casting process. It’s something I could see myself doing.”

Bateman landed her internship after having an informal conversation at a Los Angeles Dodgers game with actor James Harper, who is in a relationship with Marilyn McIntyre, an adjunct acting professor in the Elon in L.A. program. He made a couple of phone calls and Bateman began interning for Yeskel immediately. (Yeskel has served as casting director for films such as “Pulp Fiction” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”)

Bateman sorted headshots and answered phones during her first couple of days in the office, but this week, she will be in the room as actors audition for parts in an upcoming movie.

“I’m going to be sitting in the room with these actors,” she says. “I’m going to be filming that, rolling the camera. That’s what I’m going to see. That’s really exciting for me because that’s what I want to do.”

Bateman says some of the technical training she received at Elon helped prepare her for her internship with Yeskel. But more importantly, she says she appreciates having the comforts of Elon in Los Angeles.

“I’ve spent three years (at Elon) growing and becoming an adult and realizing who I am,” Bateman says. “I’m in the Elon program, but still I’m in L.A. with Elon teachers and students who are supporting me the whole time.

“The people here in this program are so easy to get along with and we’re all just testing out the waters here, but so far I think all of us have really loved the diversity that L.A. has to offer. There’s just this vibe here that’s exciting and fresh and new, and we all just are kind of running and jumping in together and it’s scary. But it’s thrilling, and I think it’s all going to be worth it.”

Ultimately, she says the contacts she makes this summer will help her when and if she decides to move to Los Angeles full time after graduating in May 2010. For now, though, Bateman says she’s working on learning how to become a casting director.

“I really do love watching acting classes and watching auditions and love finding people who just walk in and just naturally are the character,” she says. “People’s faces just come really clear in my mind as to who should play the part.”

Intern Insider will run one to two times a week during the summer and will feature brief stories about some of the interns from the School of Communications or in School of Communications programs.

Additional Media