On Week # 11, everything came out in the wash.
The cast member who had problems with two other cast members had written himself into an agreement that prevented him from working with those cast members, and since I would lose four other cast members if I lost those two, and losing those particular cast members would disrupt the storylines that I had been building and fight routines that had been established, I decided that I would lot get rid of those two members. So he dropped out, and one other cast member went with him. The first of those two cast members who left was not so difficult to replace. In fact, I had pretty much already replaced him. He had been absent a lot lately, and Lou Nogueira had stepped in and been present on those days that he was out. Even when he was in, he had deferred to Lou a lot. The other cast member was tougher, as she was part of the "Romeo & Juliette" sub-plot I was writing in. But Nicole Giunta joined the cast in time for Week #11 and took over that role.
I also put out some casting notices and got a surprising level of response. I got experience competition grapplers and MMA fighters, Jerry Mendez had referred a few of his grappling and MMA friends, and I even got contacted by the former Israeli Pro Wrestling champion and the agent of Brimstone, a well-known indie pro wrestler.
I had invited these people to come to a particular "underground wrestling party" in Manhattan as well as the rest of the cast, and got a great turnout! the cast members were able to get a sense of the scene that I was coming from with this movie, and I was able to see these potential new cast members in action.
So on Saturday I had 6 potential new cast members lined up (including Nicole). Lou and I put them through some paces with the cast, and then I conferred with the cast as to who would get which role. In the end we were able to use each and every one of them to fill a hole in the cast.
Specifically, we needed to cast a new Tybalt. Stephen showed in his wrestling the kind of desperate fury that I thought such a character would have. We needed a new trainer for the "Legit" team. Bret showed the legit credibility such a role required. We needed three referees and someone to fill a hole in the "Legit" team. WE had the auditioners improv refereeing three different matches (this also gave three pairs of wrestlers the opportunity to practice their routines under performance conditions). After this we were able to select a head referee. Looking at the cast, I decided that the other referees would be supplied by the two teams, and that they would start off the tag team match.
Together with Willis, Oscar, and Yusif, the three of us some days earlier had set all the matches for the tournament and the tag-team match that we were to shoot on the 25th. I told everyone in the cast what those final matchups were and the order in which their fights would go, and set them to working on their routines.
When that work was done, we gathered up the mats, the "Underground" team, the cameraman, and the PA's, and headed up to Tagine, where we shot the "Underground Fight Party" scene. The three preliminary fights there (Vincent vs. GA, Bundy vs. Kamikaze, and Sandra vs. Lee) were all well prepared, with only my match with Yousif someone improvised (I have found myself so busy doing everything else it takes to make a movie that I have had precious little time to actually work on my own fights. Note to self: don;t let that happen in the future). Lou proved invaluable, giving us good grappling advice. He also was able to do his trick whereby he caught an orange thrown at him while blindfolded. Jeremy Salig manned the camera, and Debra PA'd with great dexterity and sensitivity.
Tomorrow we shoot the scenes where Captain Zorikh first comes to train with the "Legit" team.