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Casting Actors Correctly. Tips, tricks, and philosophical discussions for casting your next film.
Using your resources available when casting actors.
Every town, worth living in has a theatre of some shape or form.
Casting actors correctly. Theatres are the central hubs for live creative output for many people of all different shapes and sizes, playing make-believe each and every week to a loyal crowd of those looking to be teleported through marvel, imagination and wonder. Whether it is a cinema or an actual dramatic space with a stage and featuring live performances, if you have one of these, and you’re looking at casting actors, you will have a community of inspired actors ready for the read. A readily available talent pool and a talent pool filled with people who want to work with you.
Casting your actors correctly is one of the most important pre-production steps in the independent filmmaking process, and by making sure that everything is covered you will be giving your project the best possible chance of success.
All over the internet, there are guides on casting actors. Information on what to say to actors and what you need to do. As previous actors ourselves who have both worked professionally and who have been professionally trained we think it’s prudent to give you the best advice in order to get the best experience that will deliver the most success from your casting actors process.
The casting rules, when casting actors…
1. The timetable is your daily bible. Casting actors can take a lot of organisation, getting the timetable right can give you less headache and give those who audition a clear and fairer chance to impress. We aren’t going to patronise you here by saying how to make a timetable, it’s beyond easy, but making sure you have one with clear slots and breaks makes all the difference.
2. Film the casting actors session. Film it, film everything, just press record and get everything in. But please make sure that you count for the lighting as the day will fly away and it’ll be dark before you know it. Failure to film your casting will result in you having to cast from memory – a massive no.
3. Create a comfortable space for casting actors. From the start do all that you can to make the actor feel free; everyone in the room must stand up to greet them. Ask them about their day, any projects they are currently working on. Get them loose and working with the text fairly quickly, give them a totally free audition, say to them…
“Okay, this is completely risk free, we won’t judge you on this if it fucks up, just give us your complete interpretation.”
4. Ask for suggestions on character, situation and action. Actors are artists so get their feedback on your work and bloody listen to them – they will see things you wouldn’t. Take them seriously and credit them if they suggest something that takes your work in a different direction. There is nothing worse than suggesting something and then that is taken on and the actor doesn’t even get thanked – this happens a lot in Hollywood, to a point where so many actors are absolutely disillusioned, be better than that. The casting process should be seen as a continued development opportunity for your work.
5. Try several takes in different places of the space. An actor’s space is fundamental in how they interact within a new skin. When casting actors it is always best to get them to stand by the wall and read, sit down and read, stand in the doorway and read – whatever you feel may make a difference – incorporate it. It is always worth playing around at the casting stages, as this is where a lot of discovery can come from your actors who are reading but also from you.
6. Give them the best chance possible. You never know when someone might be absolutely brilliant just given the right direction, space or time. It can be tough to fit this in, but if it is possible, do it.
7. Have a back up for everything. Always print out and bring along with you as many copies of the script as possible.
8. Respect, always give respect. Don’t forget to let them know what the process is for call-backs and how you’ll go about letting people know if they got the part or if they didn’t get the part.
Don’t ever underestimate the power of an actors craft, one audition will never be enough to truly ascertain an artist’s ability. Many showreels suffer because they are made by fools. The only real way to know if you have someone right for the role is to study their attitude…
- How much do they care?
- Do they listen?
- Do they know the script and get the story?
If the answers are straight yes’s all round then you won’t go wrong. Cast wisely and do whatever you can to pay them, even if that means slashing the budget on equipment. Put talent before technology.
Think your work has awesome acting and a great storyline? Then send it in. Here are all of our festivals on FilmFreeway.