One of the key steps in the development process in making a feature film is casting the film. We had 41 speaking roles in the film “Brother’s Keeper”, and this was a massive task for Josh, TJ and Scott, who were reporting to me and our investors in Bainbridge daily with updates on the casting process. One of the most important roles the guys had to cast was the role of ‘Gordon LeeMaster’ – the son of the richest man in town. The actor who played the role of Gordon had to be able to portray a young man who was good looking, spoiled rotten and used to getting his way – while (as some of you know that have seen the film) Gordon also had a good (almost innocent) side that he hid beneath his arrogant demeanor and under the cover of his parent’s wealth and influence. Whoever we ended up casting for this role had to be very talented to say the least… After a couple of weeks into the casting process, Joshua Mills (Co–Director and Producer) called me to let me know that after multiple casting sessions for the role of ‘Gordon’, they felt they found the perfect experienced young actor for the role – in Daniel Samonas.
For those of you that didn’t know, Daniel is a very established young actor. He’s appeared on multiple major network hits like Entourage, CSI NY, Without A Trace, ER, and he was very well known as a teenage star as the voice to ‘Teo’ in Avatar – The Last Airbender, he had appearances on Nickelodeon’s Kid’s Choice Awards Show, Zoey 101, I-Carly and Hannah Montana. But was most well known for his role as ‘Dean’ on Disney Channel’s Wizards of Waverly Place where he was Alex’s (Selena Gomez) boyfriend on the show.
A few weeks later we were flying all of our cast and crew into Tallahassee, and were bringing them all up to their temporary new home in Bainbridge, GA. I met Daniel on the day he arrived and going into the meeting I had no idea what to expect. He and I are complete opposites. (He’s young, handsome and he’s a star – we’ll just leave it at that LOL) I was pleasantly surprised to find that Daniel is actually a very friendly and outgoing young man. By the time we wrapped principle photography on the film weeks later, Daniel had not only become a friend of all of us – the principles of Desert Wind Faith Films – but he had befriended our entire Cast, Crew and most of the town of Bainbridge.
Working with Daniel was nothing short of a pleasure. Not only is he a very talented actor, he is a class act both off and on the set. He was constantly approached by fans of all ages, some very young. It was such a blessing to see that Daniel always took the time to sign an autograph or have a photograph taken with those that wanted to meet him. It was actually a joy to see him work the crowd and he most definitely represented our film, himself, and our cast very well. He was so popular that there were times that taking Daniel to a local event actually caused a disruption within the crowd. IE: The first Friday night we had the cast and crew in town we took Daniel to a Bainbridge High School Football game. The stands full of high school students (who were all anticipating his arrival at the game that night – and all knew Daniel very well from the TV shows they watched growing up) literally emptied down to the main floor surrounding Daniel immediately before we could even climb the bleachers to get to our seats. Not too many of those young ladies gave a hoot about the game that night, they all wanted to meet and have their pictures taken with “Dean” from Wizards Of Waverly Place… Daniel was instrumental in the success of our sneak peek release as well. He and I spent 4 weeks together on a road trip ‘Press Tour’ just before the sneak peek release. We hit 6 cities in the 4 weeks and I had the pleasure of watching Daniel speak at a pep assembly at the Boaz High School in Boaz, AL, and in several other schools in several other States. Every town we stopped in Daniel was always pleasurable to all we came in contact with, and he always had a smile on his face – even when we were dead tired.
If you haven’t had a chance to meet Daniel in person I hope that you get that opportunity sometime. He’s an incredible young man with a vibrant personality – who has an incredible future in front of him. We sure hope we get the chance to work with him again, and are honored to have become his friend…