What to look for while casting – 10 tips

Hugh Laurie cast for the role of House over the internet. It can be a wonderful tool if you've got the budget for it

Casting isn’t always necessary when it comes to filmmaking. If you’ve already got someone to fill a position, you can often skip over this step in the filmmaking process. On the other hand, if you’ve got a character and no actor, casting can become quite a nightmare – especially if you’re not used to deciding on which people should fill which role.

So I’ve developed a list of 10 tips for you to get to grips with to help out in this important step in the pre-production phase.

1. Know what you want from your actors. It’s fine to have a general character and it’s a good thing if an actor has a choice on how this character should be played, but by the same token, you’ve got to have some specifics. How can you get an actor to do something when you’ve given wishy washy instructions on how to play a character. Which leads me onto my next point.

2. Be specific. The more detail you can provide for an actor to play a part the better. Not everything that you get them to do has to go into the character, but knowing the limits of your actor is crucial.

3. Preparation. Have a sample script available for applicants before the interview. This allows people to prepare for what’s coming. Most of the time, you’re not going to want your actors to improvise, so thinking on their feet isn’t necessary. It is however necessary that actors can prepare for a role.

4. Be nice. It’s kind of a redundant thing for most people (I would hope) but treat your actors with courtesy, understanding and patience. Manners can get you far in life, and even if somebody isn’t going to be successful in getting a part in your film, it still helps your reputation if they can see that you’re a nice person.

5. Consider people for multiple characters. Someone who comes in might not be a fantastic main protagonist, but that doesn’t mean that they cannot do a side -character justice. And don’t be afraid to change your perception of the character either (so long as it doesn’t destroy the whole idea of the story for example), it’d usually be fine to have a different gendered or ethnic actor playing the characterof your original design.

Courtney Cox originally auditioned for the role of Rachel before getting the role of Monica in Friends

6. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Just because somebody comes in sporting one look, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be willing to cut their hair, shave their face, put on a wig, etc… When somebody comes to cast, it’s because they want to be in your film – chances are they’ll want to be in it enough to change their appearance for a while.

7. Be as transparent as possible. You want to give your potential candidates as much information as possible on what to expect. Say the types of people you’re casting for, how long they will be needed, say what’s included with the role (for example, catering, transport costs, etc…). The last thing you want is time-wasters who thought they’d get paid more than you can offer, or even worse thought that it’s be less of a commitment than what you intend it being.

8. Allow actors creative freedom. Often, they may actually come up with things you’d never thought of. It’s better to be able to incorporate elements that the actors come up with this side of production, rather than in the shoot itself.

9. Get actors to interact with each other. Most scenes need characters to bounce off each other. It’s the way a scene really comes alive. Being able to perform a monologue is good, but being able to perform a scene is far more important. Most importantly, change the dynamic of the group in order to get a range of performances from a single actor. If they perform the same each time, they may not be what you’re looking for. If they perform differently each time, you might be onto something.

10. Be as informal as possible. Nerves can prevent some from performing as well as they possibly can. While it’s good if they have a high stress threshold, anyone’s performance can be hindered by it. Also, while the power structure is such that a director is in charge, it’s also generally good practice to make sure all actors and crew members find it easy to ask for help. Being approachable can mean the difference between a better take and having to reshoot.

So there you have it, 10 tips on casting. I hope these are useful to you.

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2 Comments on “What to look for while casting – 10 tips”

  1. jamesfair says:

    Great post. Some useful tips. Thanks


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