Casting Standards

Above all, keep it professional

Keeping things professional means keeping things confidential. No one is rejected because they “suck”. You must learn to be kind. Actors don’t get a role because they weren’t what you were looking for, or they just weren’t what the director had in mind. Practice these simple phrases and leave it at that. Let the agents do their job of improving their clients’’ callback ratios and landing a job. If any actor truly “sucks” at auditioning, they won’t be getting much attention from agents because they won’t be booking jobs.

Keep all discussions related to casting completely confidential. Your staff must respect and understand why casting discussions are private. When you evaluate in detail why you prefer one actor, you need to be able to trust your staff to follow professional standards and protocol. Be ready to fire those who violate confidentiality.

Never settle

When in doubt, keep looking. There are plenty of fish in the sea, just waiting to hear about your project: those who want to work, who are trained to work, and who are perfect for the role if you can just find them. Always continue to search for the actor who is perfect for the part.

Actors are looking for you, too

Actors are trawling websites every day looking for new projects. LA and NYC actors working regularly in television are looking for projects to do between their seasons; your film could be one of their summer projects.

Agents are looking for projects

Their job is to get projects for their charges. They want good scripts for their clients. The entire industry is thirsty for a new idea, for the next great must-see film. The opposite is also true: don’t submit your script to an agency if it hasn’t been thoroughly proofed, reviewed, improved, and is in excellent shape artistically and commercially. Agents want to know that your film is going to get made and do something wonderful for their client.

It’s a job interview

Keep in mind that auditions are job interviews. You want to find out more about this person, the one whom you think is right for the role based on their submission materials. Can you communicate your ideas to the actor? Do they have the correct level of experience for the size of the role? Do they have the stamina, patience, and sense of humor necessary for twelve to fourteen hours of shooting? Do they understand the script? Do they get the story? Do they get you?

Experience gets more done

In general, the shorter the shooting schedule, the more experience everyone needs. Let’s break it down. If you’ve got eighteen days on your camera rental and a decent day rate for your director of photography (DP), you’re looking at shooting five pages a day for the entire time on a 90-page feature, a schedule leaving very little wiggle room for any drop in the pace. Your first and second assistant directors (AD) will be very busy and need to be on the ball. Expect more takes of each setup when working with inexperienced actors. Double check your actors’ marks, frame lines, and matching action. When working non-union, schedule more time to get things done.

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