Gabrielle Evans Fields is a longtime Hollywood casting director and the founder of Silver Lining Pictures. On December 11 Silver Lining Pictures releases their first film, Runnin’ From My Roots, a warm country drama that focuses on a country music star’s very public fall from grace, and her journey to reclaim herself after retreating to her small hometown. Gabrielle says that the film very much shares her own Christian values with the audience, and her production company’s name comes from her own views on Jesus.
Gabrielle grew up watching Cecile B. DeMille’s movies The King of Kings and The Ten Commandments.
Sharon: How did watching these movies influence your life?
Gabrielle: On Easter, my family and I would watch these films and at the end of the film, we would cry and say ‘We better be nice, God means business’. It made an impact on me. I was very young, but I remember wanting to make films that moved people and make them laugh or cry but either way, everything would be okay.
Gabrielle: I started out as a CD. I freelanced for over 15 years. I was always giving more of my time to the director, who would have me on the phone for hours. At times, I would change their minds about the cast. I’m glad they respected me enough to do that.
Sharon: Tell us about your work as a casting director.
Gabrielle: It was always fun to take a script and envision the actors. That was the fun part. The hardest part was putting the offers in and negotiating on behalf of the project just to have them hang up on you because the offer was too low. I had zero control of the offers. But I always thought of the actor. They deserve everything the production can afford. Now I have agents and managers calling asking me ‘What’s up?’ The good news is I’ve developed some pretty great relationships with all of the agencies.
Sharon: What inspired you to begin your own production company?
Gabrielle: I was becoming such a creative force on the casting jobs, the ‘money people’ would call me to cast their films. The next thing I knew, I was getting the best scripts from the agencies. I started Silver Lining Pictures with my private mentors like Cassian Elwes and Robert Evans. Reading scripts. Financing structures, deliverables, markets, etc., asking them every question. It took me years.
Sharon: What projects do you have in the works?
Gabrielle: Magic Max, with Parker Bates (This is Us, NBC) and Oscar-nominated actor Barry Corbin, is in post-production. The Land of Beyond Belief, The Dance, Cookie Cutter, the sequel to Runnin’ From My Roots, Aja with John Malkovich and others.
Gabrielle: RFRM started out as Take Two for Faith by Ken Lemm. It was about a Hollywood starlet who gets her heart broken and comes home to Nashville. We changed it to Runnin’ From My Roots, about a country singer, who leaves Texas and comes home to Nashville. One of the challenging moments was being in 100-degree heat in Texas. I changed the character Zoey, age 7 to Zoey age 15 and offered Nia Sioux the role. She was the first person I cast. I saw her on Dance Moms and felt something underneath all that dance that I knew she was Zoey and much more.
Sharon: As a casting director, what advice would you offer to actors?
Gabrielle: Prepare and remember, auditioning skills and getting the part are two different things.
Sharon: As a casting director, what advice would you offer to filmmakers?
Gabrielle: Get a cast that connects to the material. We at Silver Lining Pictures are known for great scripts and actors respond to the good material. Always manage your expectations. And there is no need to have fifteen producers on a small film. Keep the money for the post-production and things that you will need, like your deliverables.
Gabrielle: Write stories for older audiences, fun, loving material. Change the world or at least try. As an EP and Producer, I make sure the script is covered by most of my colleagues at the top agencies. It makes navigating easier, and the best performances are super key. Don’t substitute your cast if it’s working. A good film will get around. And lastly, the budget does matter but I look at budgets like I only have so some much money to tell this story. It’s like deciding if you’re going to use your best silverware at a picnic. Heck yes, I always want everything to look polished and buttoned up. God has blessed me with such great scripts. I’m excited about 2019 and so on..