Film Casting



Last week I discussed how casting for Film and Theatre differ.  When casting a film production different things are taken into account then when casting like the need for recording the audition.  When working in film you want to get a sense of how the actors come across on camera, which might be a little different from how you remember the audition in person.  You don’t need to rent the same camera you will be shooting with for auditions, but you do want to record the auditions and review them on screen.

For a theatre production, without a large budget, casting is limited to actors who live within driving distance to the theatre.  There will be an ongoing rehearsal process lasting several weeks/months and then several weeks of performances, anything beyond an hour commute would be unrealistic to the production’s needs.  When shooting a film casting can be opened up to a wider geographical area, many actors will cover their own travel expenses for the opportunity to audition for a film even if it is a low budget or independent production.  Filming generally does not require as long a time commitment from the actors either.

Training matters.  Film shoots are long and difficult, there is the potential for many challenges along the way.  Actors spend years training and crafting, respect their artistry and find the best ones to bring your story to life.

Here are some things to keep in mind when casting your film:

1) CAST LIST – Make a full cast list of all the characters with speaking roles, all the characters with non-speaking roles and how many extras (if any) you will need scene by scene.

2)CHARACTER BREAKDOWNS – Write a couple of short sentences describing each character speaking and non-speaking: gender, age range, skills required (singing, dance, physical training, accent, nudity, etc…) and other other information the actor should know about the role.  For extras you can describe the group (cafe patrons, concert goers, etc…)

3) LOGLINE & SYNOPSIS – You will need this for many different aspects of the production, make sure you take the time to make sure these are solid. Actors will want to have an idea of the story, genre and nature of the project before the commit to come audition.

4) SHOOT DATES – Have a list of all possible shoot dates clearly posted at auditions and have actors identify conflicts.  Also have possible dates for a Table Read and Wardrobe Fitting.

5) AUDITIONS – Always hold auditions in a public location.  Since auditions are on tape, the entire production team does not need to be present at the auditions.  Sometimes it will just be the director, a camera operator and a production assistant to read the scene with the actors.  Have a camera on a tripod set up in the audition room and mark the floor where you would like to actor to deliver from.  Provide a sign in sheet and have the Production Assistant sign in talent, collect headshot, provide sides. Make several copies of the sides and bring them with you, clearly mark sides for each character. Be clear if you want hard copies of headshots, so much casting is digital now so hard copies aren’t an automatic anymore. Some people won’t show up, you don’t want to work with those people anyway.  Others who can’t make it may request to send a tape.  Many productions today are asking for actors to tape themselves and send their own footage, so they narrow things down considerably before having the callbacks in person.  Which ever route you choose to go enjoy the process…You are one step closer to breathing life into your production!

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