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  • Writer's pictureAlyssa Bruno

Best Practices for Navigating the Casting Process for Producers & Casting Directors

Here are some tried and true tips that you can consider implementing during your next casting process.

Casting can be one of the most exciting parts of the filmmaking process. It can also be the most daunting and overwhelming. Not only are you trying to manage everything for your project, you now have to manage countless submissions for your project and try to pick the right actors for the part. It is important when going through this process to build a proper system for you and your team. Here are some tricks and methods you can use when preparing to cast actors in your next big project.

Get As Much Ready as Possible Before Hand

It is very important to be prepared when going through auditions. From where they will be held, to how much time you will have in between. It is important to give yourself enough time to figure out the fine details before you even put out the audition breakdown. Meet together as producers and as a casting team to figure out how you will run the auditions. What site(s) will you use? How will communicate with the actors? Where will the call be posted? How will you run the auditions? Figuring out all of this information well in advance of posting the casting call will not only help you in the process, but it will make things easier for your actors as well.

Triple Check Everything Beforehand:

Sometimes what is obvious to one person, may go over somebody else's head completely. It is important when you are putting out your casting call that the information you're delivering to potential actors is clear. Actors need all the details from the casting dates, to the shooting dates, and everything in between. If you're not sure how to be more clear in your breakdown, or worried actors might have missed something, restate it in the audition. Triple check before anything that you're actors are actually available to do this project, and are ready for the entire process. You'd be surprised how many actors will actually submit or say yes to projects without checking other contracts or the exact breakdown details ahead of time. Cover yourself and make sure that both parties understand everything on the table before moving forward.

Always Communicate:

Seems simple, but always make sure your actors know they can contact you and how they can do so. Allow them to email you with any and all questions they may have to make the process easier for them. Give them a clear person to contact if they have any questions, and make sure they know it's okay to ask.

Be Clear With Your Expectations

You may get a large amount of submissions sometimes, and sometimes you may only receive a few. You may pick the perfect actor, but they don't end up picking your project.

Set Expectations Accordingly:

It is important for your actors to have all of the details beyond just audition dates. If it is a paid project, how much will they be getting? How will the income be broken down? If it is a volunteer project, how will you be compensating them for their time? When can they expect to get their contracts, and even their payment? Also, figure out how you will deliver information about who is cast.

There is a lot of debate about how to inform actors whether or not they got the part, and whether or not you should tell actors if they were rejected. This is something that is completely up to you. Word of advice? Many actors are used to not hearing anything for a long period of time, and many productions do not say anything just in case. However, if you do want to say something instead of nothing, set a specific window in which you will be telling actors when they will be hearing from you. That way if they don't hear anything within that window, then they know what you're answer is. Pro tip: anything is possible in the casting process. So sometimes it is also best to leave things a bit open, and let actors know that things may change. You never know who you may end up needing.

Prepare for Anything:

Seriously, and I mean anything. I have had actors be no shows to auditions, and I have had actors come late. Actors that have dropped out of auditions, and actors that have dropped out of projects. Some actors may even change their mind or have a better offer come up midway through the audition process. Anything is possible when you're casting and gathering together your team for your production. So it is important to keep that in mind and even create fail safes.

Pro tip: have a top 3 system. It is important to be prepared for that anything. It's why in theatre, they have the understudy. The best way to do that is to think of three choices for each role, especially for your main characters. Option 1 is the top choice you want to cast on the spot, and the person that fits the character perfectly. Options 2 & 3 are the two strongest candidates that made your choice difficult, but there was something still missing that prevented them from being option 1. Actors don't have just one offer coming their way many times, so it is important to acknowledge that you may not be the better offer. Having these 3 options allows you to be able to pick strong actors and have a plan should anything arise, that allows you to keep your project moving.

Follow the Golden Rules

When preparing for auditions, there are some things that are general that you should always do. These things will make the process smoother not just for you, but for any actors that might come in or submit to audition.

Set Boundaries for Yourself & Your Team:

The casting process is almost always a long one. On some projects it may take weeks. On many big budget pictures, it takes months. You and your team are going to need to be prepared for the long haul. Give yourself breaks and breathing room in between auditions. Give yourself a lunch break. And schedule your auditions in a way that works for you, your team and your budget. Also, managing your time better and in a healthier way may also make things easier for your actors. Doing Zoom auditions? Create a schedule with breaks in between each one. Doing in person auditions? Set a time for each actor to come in, that way your team will still be able to get their breaks, and actors won't have to wait as long. But this rule doesn't just apply to setting up auditions. It also applies to working on them. Be very clear about that is and isn't allowed. Things can always happen, but you and your team, depending on the project, may be limited for time. Keep that in mind while you are deciding what will happen say if an actor shows up late or doesn't show up at all. Because trust me, it can happen.

Learn How to be Strict:

On some projects you may only get a handful of submissions. But on others you may get hundreds. Some things you may not think are a big deal may end up making a huge difference when looking to cast the actors that will bring these characters to life. When you get these mass amounts of submissions, you're going to need to know how to economize. Missing something in the submission like not including a reel? Doesn't get the vibe of the character the first go around? Then you might have to pass on them. You may not want to be that harsh, but if your short list of maybes starts getting longer than your list of nos, you may need to reconsider your approach.

In Conclusion......

Casting can be the most fun part of the process if you know how to prepare for it. Figuring out your system and processes ahead of time can make it more enjoyable, not just for you, but for your actors as well. If done right, the process can feel like a breeze, and become the least stressful & most rewarding part of the project. Best of luck!

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