This is Our Story

We're the Sprayberrys and we moved to Los Angeles about four years ago to have our go at Hollywood. When we met the folks at Children In Film, they thought it would be a great idea if we documented our story. After all, our failures and successes (hopefully more the latter than the former) can be your lesson book.

So here you have it - Dylan and Ellery working through the ups and downs of being child actors - their mother and I working hard every day to ensure their success not only as actors, but also as well-adjusted members of society.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Young Actor, Man of Steel

Actors strive for, and dream of, the chance to be cast in such an iconic film as Warner Bros 2013 reinvention of SUPERMAN. Dylan is a fortunate young actor who earned this opportunity and has since filmed in the role of the young Clark Kent.

The Audition Process

Moving the calendar back to the spring of 2011, I recall being in Houston, Texas on a three-month work assignment and hearing all about this untitled WB project for which Dylan had auditioned.

It was April 28, 2011 when Dylan learned that the sides for the audition would be from the film Stand By Me, a favorite of Dylan’s. I learned that he had gone in and felt like he gave a strong audition.

By May 16, 2011 his mother Dana got the classic “CALLBACK” call from Dylan’s manager! In our excitement we also learned that the WBROS untitled project is actually Man of Steel, directed by Zack Snyder and produced by Christopher Nolan... nice!!! There is, however, a twist to the callback: Zack Snyder will be in the room. I’m still in Houston at this point hearing about the callback and eventually learned that Dylan felt his performance was, again, strong. Two days later  (though the wait always feels like longer for young actors) we learned from Dylan's agent that he is a contender for the role of Clark Kent.

At this point things got really exciting and really moved fast; it’s like the biggest mental brain tease ever, especially for Dana and me. Dylan - who is always cool about these sorts of things - just trucks along and does his job, no worries. He does the work - the audition work, I mean - that’s what the actor does.  And the parents wait calmly on the outside yet are tormented on the inside.

Here's the thing... when you get to the point of meeting with a director, you are there and at the same time you are nowhere.  What I mean is, you are so close to dreams becoming realities and yet, technically, you don't have anything yet. Enjoy that conflicting feeling as best you can! It's part of the process. 

It’s pretty funny now, to look back on it, but when you’re going through it, it’s an emotional rollercoaster ride. It's a very fast ride and the longer you wait to hear the exact status of where your kid is in the mix of things, the more mentally trying it gets. It’s exciting and stressful which makes for a very CRAZY way to live your life, welcome to HOLLYWOOD!!!!  Don't let it get to you and never forget that win or lose, call back or not, you're moving through the process. 

Days pass and I receive the thrilling call that our boy is still in the mix for the role of 13-year-old Clark Kent and is needed for a match session (June 6, 2011). A match session is designed to pair actors up with other actors to see if the looks fit, and so forth.  This is the point in the audition process where, if they were calling for blondes all along and then end up with a brunette the parent wonders how that could possibly have happened.  It likely wasn't your child, it was the match session and they picked a brunette to play the mother thus negating the need for the blonde.  

I digress.  With this match session, once again, Zack was to be in the room. I was still in Houston thinking, "this is too good to be true!"  Part of me figured that Dylan will get close and then we would hear what we have all heard many times from casting: "we had stronger choices," "his hair was wrong or he was too tall,"... you all know the classic reasons. The reasons do make sense, but knowing this doesn’t make it any easier when the reality is your child didn't get the role. Especially when you get this far down the road with a project your kid really wants and one of this magnitude.  Just remember - match sessions - not your child's talent. 

On June 15, 2011, Dylan was still very much in the mix! We survived the match! But by June 28, 2011 he was requested for another testing session.

On July 6, 2011 it was time for a wardrobe session, which went very well. July 13, 2011 was another wardrobe session which seemed to go well. 

On July 20, 2011, we got the news. We were off to WBROS to sign contracts for the role; finally, and what a happy relief!!!!

While this process is going on I had asked Dana early on to find Dylan a gym and she did just that, plus some. Without realizing it, she found a new life for Dylan and Ellery. Long story short they found Ronin Boushnak at XFC in Sherman Oaks. Dylan and Ellery continue to workout at XFC 4/5 times a week, sometimes for 3 hours at a time. Ronin has become a mentor and inspiration to our family. Dylan and Ellery see him as their health God, and he’s so wonderful with all kids. Dana recently commented that Ronin was one of our magical finds within our six years here in LA.

Looking back on it I had returned from my stent in Houston when WBROS/Zack made an offer, and we were NUMB! It really didn’t sink in for a longtime; even after being on set, it didn’t all together sink in with me. I'm not sure if it has sunk in 100% even now. It was a surreal experience, a very exciting and elevating time for our family, friends but mostly Dylan. Taking Dylan to the contract signing and all the other meetings was a most proud time for Dana and me. To see our son honored with such a role and responsibility was just an amazing time for our family.

Becoming Superman

On August 6, 2011, the deal was done, contracts were signed, and flight and hotel arrangements were in process, and before we knew it, Dylan and I are off to the amazing city of Chicago. What a great city to visit. I must say these were two of the most rewarding weeks of my life. To spend this time with my son on such an iconic film project was much better than any vacation I could dream up!

Dylan and I worked out together, hung out in our favorite town of Naperville - what a charming little town. We must have ventured to Naperville six to eight times. Dylan and the boy playing young Clark Kent at 9 (Cooper) met up and became immediate best buds, and what fun we all had together. We will never forget the fun recreational day at the invitation of Diane Lane. What a kind and classy person Diane is.  She had such fun with the boys. She spent a good amount of time with them during the kickoff party, and was very giving indeed. The real shocker was the afternoon Diane called my cell; that was so funny and cool, “Hi Carl this is Diane, Diane Lane”.  I had to scramble for a minute to ensure I didn’t say something really goofy! The thing is; I am and have always been a very big fan of Diane’s. For me it was really a thrill to meet and hangout with Diane. And I guess my point is even after having been in the biz for a while as a parent of a chid actor, it's still easy to get a bit star struck. 

The sets were so detailed and perfect, there were some very tight sets where just a few people were there in two scenes in particular that we very cool. Lucky me to sit there on the sidelines and watch it all.

Mentoring from the Stars

So Kevin Costner (Jonathan Kent) arrived. Kevin became a mentor to Dylan, really took him in and cared for him. Kevin too was terrific, funny, told great stories and did what he does so well as an academy award winning talent! Kevin is such a talent and so focused, yet always upbeat!

Zack Snyder is superb; watching Zack work was such an entertaining education. He is so cool, calm and collected... just amazing watching it all happen. Zack is always smiling and on his game, but he always takes a moment to connect and say something to you. He was always complimentary when he spoke of Dylan. 

Anticipating the Release

This will be a SUPERMAN like we have not seen before, which we will see in June of 2013.

Henry will be such a powerful SUPERMAN, this I can assure you of this. During Dylan's second trip to Chicago (This time his mother Dana was with him), my normally very calm and removed wife was even a bit star-struck standing next to Henry in full costume.  He really is Superman.  Then in April 2012 Dylan received an envelope, he opened it up to find a card from Henry and a SUPERMAN coin that Henry personally commissioned and sent out. That’s Henry Cavill, first class and thoughtful, such a kind gentleman.

The first trailer for SUPERMAN aired with the “Dark Knight Rises,” and we hear that other trailers will start to show up during this years holiday season. We did hear that a lengthy trailer aired during Comic-Con in June with Zack and Henry present. The rumor is that Dylan is shown in the trailer a couple of times, very exciting stuff!

One last memory to share, I did have the pleasure of meeting and talking with the casting team at WBROS one day last August and yes I ask the question of how/why Dylan was chosen?  The casting director was kind enough to spend some time and talk with me.  Ultimately, I learned, it came down to both talent and looks. He had the "match up" look, and he did the work.  There are only so many things we can control as parents when it comes to this industry.  Controlling their looks, we know, is not possible -short of having them join a gym and encouraging healthy habits.  Controlling the work - well, it has to be the children who want to do it. When these two things match up - the stars aline. And there you have it.  

Thank you and stay tuned for June 2013!