Toothpaste – By @mazzystar81

By Mary Kerr




A couple of nights ago I was reading an article about how consumers buy toothpaste. It’s how I like to unwind in the evenings. 

Anyway, it wasn’t as boring as it sounds – the main point was that often, it just comes down to familiarity and what consumers feel safe buying. It made me think about my first job in film – working in casting on a film called Tulip Fever. It was 2002 and Tulip Fever was to be John Madden and Tom Stoppard’s follow up to Shakespeare in Love. (Sadly due to a tax loophole closing the film went into turnaround for the next 14 years and was only released two years ago.) 

When I started, casting was already underway; the male lead was secured but they were still searching for their female star. An open casting call was put out in PCR and my job was to sort through the hundreds of submissions and file all suitable actresses into different piles. One night after work I met with an actor friend and asked if he knew anyone who fitted the bill. The following day he sent me a bunch of headshots of a girl he was dating and I placed three of them into the pile heading for the director to look at. The meeting started and I sat nervously at the end of the table thinking I’d probably be yelled at for the obvious mistake. 

The first time the girl’s photo surfaced, the director moved past it without a second thought. The next time she popped up there was a significant pause. The third time she appeared, she was picked up and her photo was flipped over in order to read her CV, before being placed into the shortlisted pile for auditions. It was interesting because she hadn’t done much, but I really think her familiarity growing as we went along nudged the director into bringing her in. In the end she didn’t get the role but the fact that she got an audition was cool. 

I really loved casting. They say that 90% of directing is casting and I agree. Casting is one of the only times in my life I’ve ever felt truly confident about being good at something. Finding the right actor for the role. Finding new talent and finding the right ensemble of voices to tell a story. I love how you can hear the same lines over and over again and suddenly they come to life in a way you never imagined. Hearing an actor change the meaning of a line with just an inflexion or a pause, a small clearing of the throat or the lift of a brow. I was lucky enough to be in some of Tom Hardy and James MaCavoy’s earlier auditions before they made it big. They ultimately lost out on the roles they came in for which seems to have turned out for the best. But they brought something new every time. And it was electrifying to watch.

Familiarity is also how celebrity starts. Exposure to someone you wouldn’t even glance twice at on the street. But the more you see them on TV or in the papers the more you are intrigued. It sounds obvious the way I’m writing it but it is far more layered and psychologists have written fascinating articles about human’s need to have these familiar God type “things” in their lives. I suppose that’s why ultimately a celebrity selling toothpaste is the dream of many dental brands. It then just takes a nudge.



The copy scores 75.3 in the Flesch Reading Ease test

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