If done correctly, casting can be one of the most exciting points of pre-production. It’s the first time a script comes to life and possibilities start to be realized. Every budget is tight and with so many actors ready to work, not hiring a casting office is seen as an easy way to save cost.
As an indie film producer myself, I understand that you want to do whatever you can on your own. As a full time casting director, while I sympathize, I know that most projects will be lost in the woods without some casting help.
How to post your project
Sending out a half-baked blast on social media or emailing agents asking for their top tiered talent is highly inadvisable. Instead, reach out through your network and provide as much information as possible about your project:
• Project Info: Sell the sizzle on your team, write a great log line, and present yourself as a project worth people’s time,
• Rates (Note: Please don’t ask for free/deferred work. You’re setting yourself up to fail.),
• Dates: Auditions, callbacks, and shooting dates,
• Shooting Location,
• Role Descriptions: (Name, age, ethnicity, and 2–3 sentences about the character),
• How to submit: I recommend having talent submit a headshot, resumé, and reel (if they’re lucky enough to have one) to your production’s email address.
You can also use some professional websites. You won’t get all the tools you may want, but you’ll be able to get your project out to more actors and give those actors the ability to submit. I recommend:
How to stay organized
Not having a casting director is already going to make actors feel less confident about a project. If casting seems unorganized, sloppy, or frantic, that’s a pretty clear indication that the rest of production will follow suit. Casting is your production’s ambassador to talent; so put your best foot forward.
One way to keep you organized is to be acquainted with these tools:
- Set up an email specifically for talent submissions. firstname.lastname@example.org is a great way to bring some legitimacy to your project and keep your submissions from actors separate from your personal emails.
- Use Google Drive to sort out footage, submissions, etc. (I recommend you do it by role and name the files the actor’s names.[Role_ActorName_Audition]) GoogleDocs are great for schedules, notes, size sheets, cast list, and booking sheets.
Managing all this information can be extremely difficult and overwhelming, especially with a big cast. Without access to actual casting tools these will do just fine.
Criteria for picking the right location
You’re a 90lb, 18-year-old girl walking into an audition space. Do you feel safe at the audition location? Any twinge of a doubt? If there’s even an inkling that you don’t feel safe at a location, you’ve picked the wrong audition space.
Make sure you pick a safe, well-lit, easily accessible location for casting. If you’re a student, use your school! If not, choose a place that actors know and will be comfortable in. Acting schools, theaters, and libraries are always good options. If actors don’t feel safe, they can’t and won’t do their best work. Giving them a place they can feel comfortable in will get you better performances.
Setting reasonable expectations
If you’re not using a casting director, you’re not going to get access to the best talent. Period. It shows a lack of budget and/or a lack of professionalism, and that’s a tough sell from the start.
Maybe some good talent will get excited about the project and come out but don’t bank on it.
You’ll be treated as professionally as you present yourself — professional actors play by professional rules.
Using a casting director is always going to be the best option. We have years of experience finding the best actors, but more importantly, the best cast as a whole. Most of us are willing to work with small budgets, so give a casting office a call to see if we can help. If all else fails, I hope this helps.
Sarah Clark, CSA