November 5, 2018

Watch: The Value of a Good Screen Test in Larry Fessenden's 'Habit'

Here's how you ace a good screen test.

However raw the quality of footage, a good screen test is important in determining the right actor for a given role. A filmed audition (and often a first look at how an actor plays off a scene partner, looks in a character's clothing, or adjusts to extensive makeup or prosthetics), a screen test is often the first filmed glimpse of a performance and, as an extension of that, the power of the movie in question.

As the New York-based Glass Eye Pix, an indie stalwart that has produced some of the more intriguing, boundary-pushing genre titles of the last three decades, turned 33 years young last Friday, the company has released rare footage of a screen test for one of its most celebrated titles, the urban vampire drama, Habit.

Directed and starring Glass Eye Pix founder Larry Fessenden (who was feted with an Independent Spirit Award for Best Director for his work on the film), the footage shows scenes from a screen test shot in 1981 along with the final product shot in 1994. 

Decade-plus time-jump withstanding, the split-screen comparison shows a rough but easily identifiable sequence of scenes that were very much on their way to becoming a fully realized whole. The early footage is a little tamer than the final events that made it into the finished film, but the fact that Fessenden's dialogue remained as intact as it did, its concepts fully gestating before even having the necessary funding in place to embark on a feature, is an impressive feat in and of itself. 

As they become more and more common as a result of home video special features, what memorable screen tests do you most fondly remember? Let us know in the comments below.      

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