Casting Crossing Streets was a new experience for us (Alexander Films). We had handled casting for commercial projects and short films, but casting a 20-day shooting schedule, with principle actors that could carry the film… that was something altogether new for us.
We brought in a casting director who assisted with the local open calls, but the principle roles and strong supporting roles were stacking up. We knew we wanted to bring as many local actors into the film as possible, but put a strong emphasis in the delivery — as mush as we cared to see locals in the film, we weren’t going to let poor performances be our mark. As the weeks passed we were able to fill smaller supporting and day players roles, but the supporting and leading roles were hanging.
Soon, Canadian actor Zack Peladeau was cast as Simms, making Crossing Streets his first US film. Jen Lilley and the director, Marc A Hutchins, were in talks over a previous project, but her schedule only allowed her to be on the Crossing Streets set for a limited time. Jen was eventually cast as Officer Cate Anderson. In addition to being an amazing actor, Jen also has ties to Roanoke, and is a supporter of child and teen outreaches. Kurt Vogelsang and Laura Avnaim are Virginia actors (Laura is now in L.A.) that were cast locally. Because of the crazy schedule, Kurt and Laura’s character were not able to be blocked, and therefore local casting made sense.
As the days were counting down to the start of production, a decision had to be made for the detective and minister roles. In the end, Marc made the final decisions that landed Kevin Nichols and Chris Cleveland as the detective and minister. Both were cast within a week of the production day #1, a down-to-the-wire-moment Marc said we never wanted to repeat.
Through production and into post, it is evident that the casting choices were spot on, and the dynamics between the leads make Crossing Streets the amazing film it is today.