George R. R. Martin to present North American Cinema Premiere of ‘The Callback Queen’

| February 4, 2014 | Comments (1)

Amy-Joyce Hastings in The Callback Queen

Amy-Joyce Hastings

George R. R. Martin, the renowned author of the Game of Thrones series of novels and owner of the Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe, New Mexico, will present the North American Cinema Premiere of The Callback Queen from February 7th 2014.

The Callback Queen is directed by award winning Irish filmmaker Graham Cantwell, with an Irish and international cast including Amy-Joyce Hastings, Mark Killeen, Eoin Macken, Seán T. O Meallaigh, Vicki Michelle and Ger Ryan.

The Callback Queen recently screened at the 25th Galway Film Fleadh and has had screenings at Leicester Square in London and in Luxembourg at the British and Irish Film Season.

Martin,  who  is  also  an  executive  producer  on  the Game  of  Thrones TV  show,  explains  the  series  of  events that have led to him presenting the North American premiere of The Callback Queen. “Hundreds  of actors auditioned for roles both large and small in HBO’s Game of Thrones”, he says, “Only a handful  were cast. Thousands more tried to get auditions, but were never given the chance to read. In the old  days, aspiring stars sent off resumes and 8×10 glossies to  directors, producers,  and  casting directors.  They still do that, but these days some also upload their own auditions on Youtube, Vimeo, and similar  sites on the internet. Amy-Joyce Hastingswas one of those, as I discovered one day when dozens of my  fans  and  readers  began  to  send  me  emails  with  links  to  a  reading  by  a  lovely  young  red-haired  Irish  actress that I’d never heard of.”

“I’ve been a big reader of fantasy novels since I was a little girl”, says Hastings, “and when I found out that  a  fantasy  TV  series  based  on Game  of  Thrones was  going  to  be  made  by  HBO  I  got  very  excited!”  Hastings, who began her career as a child actress playing Julie Christie’s daughter in Fools of Fortune,  got hold of the script and recorded an audition tape, which she posted online. Within two days the tape had thousands of views and fans of the books were discussing it on fansites like  winteriscoming.net.  “It  caught  me  completely  unawares.  I  had  recorded  this self  tape  as  a  speculative  thing, never intending it to be seen by anyone except maybe the casting director, but it got an incredible  amount of interest online, and I had some very encouraging feedback from people who’d seen it, which was a lovely surprise”, says Amy-Joyce.

Fans of the books were impressed enough to send the link to Martin. “They liked what she’d done”, he says, “and so did I, when curiosity drove me to click on one of those links and take a look. So I dropped her a note, told her the name of our casting director, wished her luck… and thought no more of it, until I heard about The Callback Queen.”

“Unfortunately the casting industry in London has  a  kind of  heirarchy to it”, says Amy-Joyce, “and the
agent I was with at that time wasn’t ina position to capitalise on the momentum so I missed out on being
seen.”

While  she  was  disappointed  not  to  have  had  the  chance  to  audition,  the  experience  did  have  a  silver lining, as Martin explains, “Amy-Joyce never got to audition for Game of  Thrones. That’s something she has  in  common  with  thousands  of  other  actors  from  all  over  the  world.  Unlike  all  the  others,  however, Amy-Joyce took life’s lemons and made lemonade; she shared her experiences with her friend Graham Cantwell, an Irish filmmaker, who took her tale about a young actress attempting to land a role in an epic fantasy,  and  turned  it  into  a  movie…  a  romantic  comedy  about  moviemakers  and  aspiring  actors  that pokes fun at the whole casting carousel… starring Amy-Joyce Hastings.”

“I had known Amy-Joyce for years and had always wanted to work with her on a large scale project”, says Cantwell, “I had been planning to write a comedy about young filmmakers but I lacked a narrative hook to tie the story together, so  when Amy-Joyce told  me  about herexperience  chasing  a Game  of  Thrones audition  it  all  clicked  into  place.  We  created  a  film  within  a  film  called Prince  of  Chaos,  which  was inspired by the TV series, and a character called Horatio King, who is loosely based on George.” Fast  forward  several  months  and  production  on The  Callback  Queen is  well  under  way.  “George  had stayed  in  touch  and  I’d  told  him  about  the  film”,  says  Hastings,  “I  emailed  him  a  prop  cover  we  had created for the Prince of Chaos book in our film and he posted it on his blog,which created a bit of a stir, as he didn’t give any context. He likes to tease his fans with clues about the series and they worked really hard to figure out what the cover was from. We thought it would be so obscure they’d never get it but fair play to them they figured it out extremely quickly, they followed the digital breadcrumbs and had it within hours.”

Filming on the Prince of Chaos sequences took place in Snowdonia in Wales. Director Cantwell was keen
to  make  the  footage  shine,  “We  wanted  those  scenes  to  look  like  they  were  from  a  big  budget,  epic Hollywood production like Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings, so we put a lot of our resources into them. We were operating on a very tight budget, so had to be quite clever to give the film within a film high  production  value.  We  brought  in  a  friend  of  mine,  actor  Eoin  Macken.  He  was  friendly  with  horse master Dylan Jones from his time on Merlin, so he helped us put that together.” Macken’s star is on the rise,  as  he  has  recently  been  cast  as  the  lead in  a  brand  new  NBC  TV  series  Night  Watch,  which coincidentally is filming in New Mexico, where The Callback Queen screenings will take place.

“If you believe in serendipity, there have been lots of little coincidences and connections between our film and Game  of  Thrones”,  continues  Cantwell,  “our  leading  man  Mark  Killeen  had  a  significant  role  in season three. He played a character called Mero, a vile mercenary who insults Daenerys, the Mother of Dragons. Also, one of the Dothraki warriors on the show auditioned for the part of Prince Cal, which Eoin plays. So it’s wonderful that the whole story has come full circle. It’s a great honour to be recognised by someone of George’s calibre, his support means a lot for an independent production like ours.”

The  Jean  Cocteau  is  a  wonderful  independent  arthouse  cinema  in  Santa  Fe,  New  Mexico  that  Martin purchased and re-opened in 2013 after it went dark in 2006. Managed by Santa Fe Film Festival founder Jon  Bowman,  the  cinema  shows  a  mixture  of  classic  films  and  first  run  movies,  and  is  renowned  for having the best popcorn for miles!

“I’m really looking forward to the experience”, says Amy-Joyce, “I’m sure American audiences will take to
the film the way they have in Ireland and Europe, it’s very funny and anyone with an interest in the film
industry  will  love  it.  We’re  taking  it  to  LA  immediately  after  the  premiere  to  look  for  distribution,  so hopefully we’ll be able to get The Callback Queen out to the greater public very soon.”

Says Martin, “I’m delighted to be able to present the North American premiere of The Callback Queen at
the Jean Cocteau Cinema here in Santa Fe, and thrilled that I will finally get to meet Amy-Joyce Hastings
and Graham Cantwell (even though they never asked me to audition for the role of Horatio King).”

 

The Callback Queen is produced by Film Venture London in association with RCA Media Productions.

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  1. Fiachra says:

    As soon as I watched Anton I could see that Graham Cantwell is Ireland’s answer to Jean Cocteau!

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