Thursday, August 8, 2013

Finding Tanner Halston

I've spent some time recently exploring another medium, film-making.  On a whim, I decided to film a live-action book trailer for SPIES AND PREJUDICE.  It would be easy, or so I thought.  I'd enlist my daughter to be in it, since she looks a lot like the main character, Berry Fields, and we'd shoot a scene from the first chapter at a local restaurant while she was home for my launch party.

I wrote a script, with a few establishing shots of the couple Berry spies on in the first scene, and Berry watching them while her voice-over references some internal monologue from the book.  I recruited a guy I work with and my daughter's roommate to play the couple, and all went well.

I edited it and sent it off to my publisher. They liked it, but then asked the question I'd been avoiding since I came up with the idea in the first place.  "Where's Tanner?"

SPIES AND PREJUDICE is a contemporary spy story with a bit of Jane Austen thrown in.  And I had just made a trailer with no Mr. Darcy.  It was like peanut butter with no jelly, fine on its own, but not nearly as good as it could be.

My daughter had already returned to college, and I was at a loss. In the scene, Tanner spies on Berry while Berry spies on the couple,  so it wasn't necessary to show them together.  I could shoot Tanner at the same restaurant and cut him in with the footage of Berry.  There was just one huge problem:  I didn't have an actor to play Tanner.

Finding a teenage Mr. Darcy is a tall order to begin with, and since I didn't know anyone who fit the bill, I was at a complete loss.  So I did what any enterprising sleuth would do, I searched the internet.  I found a casting agency in my hometown, and called them to see if they might have a professional actor to fit the bill.

The answer?  They might, but no professional actor would give me unlimited rights to use his image in a book trailer shot on an iPhone, whether I was willing to pay for the work or not.

My publicist suggested asking one of the guys who worked in the restaurant, but what were the odds of finding someone who fit the description of my arrogant, handsome teen, and who would give me rights to his image?  Also, how creepy would I seem when I approached with my iPhone?

So I put out a call to some dear writing friends and half-jokingly asked if they knew of any good-looking 18-25 year old guys who could play Tanner in my book trailer.  Within minutes, I had a name and a phone number.  A friend of a friend's son was home from college for the summer, and looking for something to do.  He was hired on the spot.

I was warned that his hair was "a little long" because he was growing it out for locks of love, but I figured that his long hair would make him that much more "Darcy-ish." (Plus, how adorable is that?) He turned out to be a great sport, and after another day of shooting, Tanner Halston, and my book trailer, came to life:

Talia Vance is the author of SPIES AND PREJUDICE, described as Veronica Mars meets Pride and Prejudice, as well as the BANDIA series (SILVER; GOLD) based on Celtic mythology.  You can find out more about her at


  1. I love it!!! Awesome trailer!! And it fits the book so well!! :)

  2. That was so cute and fantastic! Your daughter did so good- loved the 'shots' she was getting w/her glasses, lol! =)

  3. Thanks! It was a lot of fun to make.

  4. Very professionally done! Love it!

  5. The story behind this mini-movie is terrific, and your daughter is beautiful and talented. Good casting. I hope Mr. Garlic-fries still likes you, as you have to bump into him. Maybe you sprang for the meal.
    Oh, and a Mr. Darcy is a hard find for any female... Congrats!

  6. Thanks Meeka! The garlic fry guy did work for food, and he was a great sport about it- a true ham.


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