Picking the Best Actors

Once your breakdown is distributed, submissions will start coming in. You should have been specific about submission guidelines, so pay attention to actors who couldn’t follow the instructions. It may be indicative of a kind of carelessness that carries across multiple areas of their lives.

The best way to go through a mountain of submissions is to start organizing from the beginning. If the submission is clearly a no, add their email address to a group so that you can easily email all of the rejections at one time at the end of your casting. For those you are interested in, take your time. Create a folder on your computer called “Casting – (Project Name)”, and create folders inside it for each of your potentials. Save the headshots, resumes and reels that they emailed to you in these folders so you have everything easily accessible from one place.

Once you’ve decided who you want to invite to audition, write out a form response that you can send to every actor (after you’ve changed the name and role name for each email of course). Tell them when the audition is, what to prepare, what to bring, and how to get there. Make sure you include all the necessary information, like maps for how to get to the location or where to park. Ask them to choose the best two or three slots that they’d be able to come in for and do your best to accommodate everyone.

For rejections, a simple form email with one or two sentences thanking them for their submission will suffice. Many actors don’t ever hear anything back when they’re not chosen to audition, so it would be nice to let them know what’s going on, at the very least.

Keep a master spreadsheet of your actors’ information as a way to stay organized. Excel is always good for this, but movie production software is also an option. Make columns for the role, actor’s name, phone number, email, links to footage, and union affiliation. As you eliminate actors from the pool, you can delete their listing. At the end, this list will become your official contact sheet.

Your next consideration will be choosing the scenes that your potential cast members will read at auditions. Choose a monologue or a pivotal moment for each character. Make another folder on your computer that has the audition script, or “side” for each character, all organized together. Make sure the files are .doc or .pdf so that they can be easily opened by actors who don’t have your screenplay editing software. SAG regulations dictate that the actor needs their side at least 24 hours before the audition, but it’s much nicer to give them at least a few days, if not more.

Sign-in sheets and spreadsheets are your last consideration. You’ll need your own sign in sheet (with headings for Name, Time In, Time Out, Union Status/Agent, Phone Number and Email) as well as the official SAG sign in sheet for SAG members.

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