5 Essential Tips For Casting Your Film

August 8, 2017
Tips and Techniques
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Tired of casting friends and family to star in your films? Recruiting professional actors for your latest project may seem like a daunting challenge, but there are plenty of resources in Los Angeles to help you do it right.

Whether you’re operating on a micro-budget or have financial backing, there are plenty of actors out there who are interested in working with you. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind during your search.

Craft your pitch

Take the time to craft solid character descriptions for your casting call. They don’t need to be long, but the language should be well thought out and precise. This will give actors a good idea whether they’re a good fit for your project. Much like how you expect your actors to put their best foot forward for you, you should do the same. The more precise and accurate you are to what you're looking for, the more likely you are to finding the right person. Also, make sure to talk up your education or past experience. Actors like to know they’re working with someone who has the training to make them look good. You want those who audition to go the extra mile for you. Make them understand why they should. 

Casting directors

Should you hire a casting director? A lot will depend on your budget and shooting schedule. If you’re low on cash, but have the time, then you may be able to handle submissions on your own. But having a quality casting director can cut through the cattle calls and get you access to top-tier talent. A lot of casting isn't just the shotgun approach; blasting out audition announcements in every Facebook group you know. It's about knowing how to navigate the exhausting process. Talking to the right people, negotiating and locking them in.

Where to post

With casting, like in life, you get what you pay for. Posting your casting call on Craigslist is going to result in a mixed bag of performers. Sure, you might find that diamond in the rough, but only after wading through tons of coal. Sites like Backstage, Actors Access and Now Casting may charge a nominal fee, but you’re going to get more qualified performers. Again, if you're willing to put in the extra effort, you're going to find talent that was willing to do the same and that's what you want.

Overbook, but not by much

If you’re booking talent for a non-paying project, you are going to want to overbook your audition times. While actors may confirm audition times with you, many will be no-shows due to other gigs — or even traffic. If you’d like to see six actors an hour, then invite at least eight or nine. Often, only half will make the session.

Casting space

While it may be tempting to use your home as the audition space, it’s rarely a good idea and can make actors uncomfortable. It’s simply more professional to get an official casting space with sign-in desks and a waiting room. Treating your casting like a professional event (because it is) only echoes how you will treat your shoot and set. Signally to your potential cast that you are a professional will only help solidify their confidence in you and your professionalism.

 

At the end of the day, casting is never easy. Sometimes you cast for a specific type but you end up with someone completely different. It's a process. With time and this guide, you will eventually navigate your casting needs like a pro. Looking to find a casting space on a budget? Cazt offers producers free casting space in return for providing feedback, while Film Independent provides members with free access to casting space and production meeting space.

 

 

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Gina Hall

Gina Hall is a writer and producer experience in television, documentary and feature film production. She started in the business on productions such as Friends and Big Brother and has produced documentaries for Warner Brothers, MGM and Universal. She is also a graduate of USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and contributes to HuffPo LA and Silicon Valley Business Journal. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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