|Published on November 1th, 2016 | by Anthony Martinez | PRESS RELEASE|
"Casting Director Matthew Sefick is looking for new faces to bring back 1980’s Christian heavy metal culture for Chris White’s hard-rocking comedy."
CHARLESTON, South Carolina — Indie filmmakers and casting directors don’t hang out together in coffeehouses. (Most independents can barely afford to pay their actors, let alone a casting director.) But writer-director Chris White and casting director Matthew Sefick are different. White’s next film is his most personal, and Sefick—who’s championed White’s screenplay for years—knows his director is looking to catch lighting in a bottle. This is not business as usual.
White’s film is called TO HELL WITH THE DEVIL, but don’t let the title fool you. It’s not a horror movie. “Well, that depends on what you think of evangelical youth culture,” he says, “And 80’s hair metal.”
Set in the summer of 1986, TO HELL WITH THE DEVIL follows the meteoric rise and fall of a Christian hair metal band in the Deep South, as seen through the eyes of the band’s longsuffering teenage soundman.
“It was a weird, uniquely American cultural moment,” the 46 year-old White remembers, “Spandex-wearing teen boys with mall girl hair and makeup...singing heavy metal anthems about Jesus Christ.”
TO HELL WITH THE DEVIL is an ALMOST FAMOUS-like story from that world: “It’s a super-fun, coming of age, rock-and-roll comedy with a lot of heart,” White says, “Matt and I have to find six young actors who will not just bring that world alive for our audience, we need actors who can make our audience care.”
Sefick and White are on their second espresso. The discussion is animated, and has turned to acting experience. Sefick asks: “Are you saying we’re looking for actors who’ve never even been in a school play?” White pauses. “I’m just saying kids who are L.A.-perfect are probably too polished for TO HELL WITH THE DEVIL.”
One of the movie’s leads is a 16 year-old female, “Sarah.” White says Maria McKee of the band Lone Justice inspired the character. He shows Sefick a YouTube video of Lone Justice from the mid-1980s. “Hear that voice? See that hair, that dress? We’re looking for her!”
Sefick has worked on numerous televisions shows and films. He says TO HELL WITH THE DEVIL is different, but in a good way. “The whole time Chris and I have been talking about the project, I’ve been impressed with how clear his vision is,” Sefick says. “He’s going for a level of verisimilitude that you rarely see in music movies or teen comedies.” White reveres Alan Parker’s The Commitments and John Carney’s Sing Street (“Amazing casting!”) Both films are Irish and found their young actors through painstaking, nationwide searches. “Chris refuses to re-write the film to be set in Ireland,” Sefick quips, “Believe me, I asked.”
Filmmaker and casting director have agreed that the best approach will be to ruthlessly scour the Deep South for their six teenage leads, and, if their search proves fruitless, head to Los Angeles or New York early next year as a last resort. “There are incredibly talented young actors—relative unknowns—in the major film markets who I know Chris will love,” Sefick says. “But like him, I prefer the idea of finding talented actors from around here—giving them their first break.”
“There’s something rare and true about digging deep, finding people who might not otherwise get a shot at a lead role in a movie like this,” White says wistfully. “That’s the kind of film I’m trying to make, actually—something rare and true.”
TO HELL WITH THE DEVIL is casting now. Interested young actors can submit at the film’s casting website: www.HairBandGlory.com. Submissions are free and open until November 30, 2016.
Matthew Sefick began working in casting on Lifetime’s hit series Army Wives and helped cast over 100 episodes of the show—eventually being named Casting Director for the final season. Since then he has cast feature films, television movies and commercials in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. Sefick is excited to have just wrapped up casting the second season of The Inspectors. Sefick is a member of the Casting Society of America as well as the Television Academy.
Chris White has written and directed three feature-length films: showbiz comedy CINEMA PURGATORIO (2014), and broken family dramas GET BETTER (2012) and TAKEN IN (2011). He recently co-wrote the screenplay for the upcoming feature, SIX LOVE STORIES and has written and directed for the multiaward-winning, webseries phenomenon, Star Trek Continues. White has produced many acclaimed short films—collecting his most recent for a five-film, “southern gothic comedy” anthology called UNBECOMING (2016). Chris is a regular contributor to Paste Magazine, covering SNL, SundanceTV’s Rectify, and the Criterion Collection.