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Tips for Casting Your Film

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 5/23/2011

Here is a look at how to cast your narrative film production.

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    Actor Up

    Casting for your narrative film production is just as much an essential part of putting together an effective project as is selecting the correct equipment and crew. The cast is going to bring your story to life, drawing out characters and themes that are only suggested in the script. You cannot control your actors as they have to be able to naturally create the characters with your guidance, which is why you need to have the right people for each role. Casting for your film is a difficult process because it requires you to seek people out and then dig through superficial meetings to try and see something that may be there once you are on set. Here are a few tips to think about when you are setting out to cast your film.

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    Film Casting Calls

    Film casting calls are the most standard way that smaller films or films without draws to known actors will get much of their cast. A film casting call tends to be a time when a large number of potential actors coming before the director and casting director and do either quick reading from the script, short prepared pieces, or even just very quick meet and greets. You are going to find that film casting calls are not always the best way to get to know an actor because you may not have as much time with them as you would in a full audition, but film casting calls are a great way to decide who you do want to give those auditions to. If you have less people involved you can also use the film casting call format to allow for people to audition on the spot, except you will just have several in a row.

    To really get a film casting call moving you are going to have to get the word out about it as much as you can. You will likely want to start out posting advertisements on and, and the second of which is going to be a resource for more professional talent. Your film casting call may want to go out to local talent agencies, modeling agencies, and those locations, but make clear what your position on payment and union membership is going to be. Printing up fliers may be a good option to promote your film casting call, and try to leave them around places for local theater and arts.

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    As long as you are not shooting a corporately funded feature film, you are likely going to have to space out shoot days and be flexible. This is especially true when doing student film casting and casting for short films. To do this effectively you are going to have to know exactly where everyone is at in terms of their general availability. When you are doing your film casting calls, or really the whole movie casting process, you will need to find out their availability. This can be one of the most important factors when choosing an actor because a great actor who is only available in awkward periods is not going to be of much use to you. In student film casting you will have an even more complicated form of this because available days are going to have to be negotiated for school, equipment availability, and the priority for all cast and crew to take paying jobs even when it conflicts.

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    Organization is important in all of pre-production, not just the movie casting process. You are going to need to keep things organized because once you begin posting information about your film casting calls and your film in general you are going to get a lot of feedback from potential actors. To help keep yourself organized you should make sure that you ask them for enough information, such as headshots and resumes. This way you will be able to physically catalogue everyone that is coming in and to know who you are talking to.

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    Serious Only Please

    Since the numbers are likely to be high for your film casting calls you will want to weed out those who are serious and those who do not have what it takes. Make sure that the requirements of the project are laid out for them up front so that they know what they will be needed for, and if they have too dramatic of conflicts you should cut off the relationship right away. You should also prioritize actors and actresses that have prepared for your meetings well, not just those with a lot of experience. This is important for student film casting as well because there is a lot riding on the success of your student films. Make sure that they are also willing to sign a photo release and any other film production forms that you may need.

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