Heidi Schauer waited inside the Arlington Cinema 'N' Drafthouse last Wednesday evening, next to a curtain-drawn doorway situated a few feet from the theater's only screen — which was projecting the movie "Jaws" to a half-full house. With an application in hand, Schauer waited until the curtain was opened and until she was summoned into the next room. In the room four men sat behind a table, one with a camcorder ready to record the interview. The purpose for this backstage rendezvous? A casting call for the next installment of reality-based entertainment, tentatively titled "Dewey Beach: The Movie."
After a casual conversation and a few laughs, the men thanked Schauer, who after exiting was quickly replaced with another twenty-something looking to end up on the big screen.
"One of the guys in my beach house sent an e-mail out and I thought it would be fun," said Schauer. "I'm totally going to be the next Kristen Cavalleri — Nick Lachey, look out."
WHILE NOT A CASTING CALL for MTV's "Laguna Beach," Greg Godbout, owner of the Cinema 'N' Drafthouse, has teamed up with production company The Blue Wave to create a feature-length film that explores the culture of Dewey Beach, Del. Only one mile long and three blocks wide, this strip of beach flanked by the Atlantic Ocean and Rehoboth Bay plays host to droves of Washington, D.C. singles every summer who are in search of an escape from the nine-to-five grind.
"We wanted to make a film about a place you love," said Godbout, speaking on behalf of his partners Tim Clarke, brother Rich Godbout and Steve Laake. "I think people jump to conclusions that there is not a lot of depth in Dewey. The people who we interview that make up Dewey Beach are the most interesting, fun, down to earth people. They are creative and have a very interesting outlook on life."
The Blue Wave, a production company with offices in both D.C. and Hollywood, has taken up the task of filming the endeavor and director Tom Prather is excited about what they might find when the cameras begin rolling.
"I always found it compelling — the transformation that people make from their nine-to-five day jobs. I compare it to the Harley Davidson guys," said Prather. "If you saw them during the weekday, you would never imagine that they have chaps or leathers."
SLATED TO BE FILMED over the course of this summer, Prather and Godbout arranged a casting call to meet locals who planned to spend time in Dewey and didn't mind having a film crew tag along. During the four hours of auditions, a myriad of characters attempted to catch the intrigue of the film's producers and director.
As the screams from a shark attack scene in "Jaws" leaked in from the adjacent theater, Rez Alborz sat in front of the crew and fielded questions ranging in topics from past relationships to why he wants to be in the film.
"I am the only person in Dewey to stop traffic on both sides of the street," said Alborz, as he recalled a time he was hit by an automobile. "I'm not proud of it, but I did it."
Those who came for the auditions also showed up with friends for support or to be cast in pairs. When asked 'Why would you want to be followed by a film crew?' Kim Brainard replied, "Everyone always says 'Goddamn, why don't you have a camera on you?'" as she sat with her friend and fellow movie hopeful Kristen Cheshire.
"Our jobs are extremely different from our weekends," explained Brainard. "Normally I am a mother to two German Shepherds, but I still have a few years left in my twenties."
After the auditions, Prather was surprised at how well they turned out.
"We had a couple goof ball auditions but for the most part 90 to 95 percent of the auditions were good candidates," he said. "We've narrowed it down to three or four people that we are going to follow. We are also going to take three to five people from the audition and interview them and get some small background stories on them."
ACCORDING TO PRATHER, the idea for filming the movie is relatively simple. Three to four people will be followed during their stay in Dewey, but unlike reality shows on television, the movie will follow the chosen individuals separately instead of lumping them together in one beach house.
"We are looking for people who are going down to Dewey anyway and have already committed to staying in a beach house," said Prather. "The beach house scene is a key element at Dewey Beach. A lot of young professionals go down there and split a house. Chances are they [the cast] won't be in the same house but we expect their paths to cross."
To use popular reference points, Prather explained that the feel of the movie will be more like "Laguna Beach" and not so much like "The Real World," which he says uses security cameras to film random acts that are sliced together during editing. To strengthen this vision, Prather said that the director for "Laguna Beach" has been added as a consultant for the film, which will be shot using high definition cameras.
While exploits under the influence of alcohol may be part of any beach culture, Prather and the producers are trying to make the integrity of the film clear.
"My main point is to let people know that this movie is not another 'Girls Gone Wild'," said Prather. "I don't want my name on something like that and I wouldn't do something like that. I am an award-winning editor and it is going to be a serious film. That is my major concern. We want to give credibility to Dewey Beach."
JUST A FEW DAYS after the auditions, both Godbout and Prather confirmed that the final cast had been decided. With funding for the film just under $100,000, the producers are looking to see a return after shopping the film around festivals this winter. According to Godbout, the movie should be out in theaters in the spring with a DVD release set for the summer — just in time for the next wave of D.C. beachgoers to hit Dewey.
"I think you are going to find that there is kind of, well, it reminds me a little of college," said Godbout about the atmosphere at Dewey. "The bond you make during college — people stay in touch forever."