Casting – The Core of Your Film
If the Screenplay is the blueprint for your film, casting is the core. Audiences are drawn into high quality stories; however, they connect with the film via your cast. This is an area tech savvy film-makers often blow.
You will often see their films are amazing from a visual point of view and maybe even have a great story. However, wooden performances destroy the film and make it feel and look amateurish.
This is a stumbling block that the smart film- maker has to avoid. When one starts out, one sitll has to find the very best actors that they can get for their film. How do many film-makers handle this area? They make some of the following mistakes:
- Recruit family members
- Recruit their best friends to act in the film
- Recruit the funny drunk from their local pub
- Recruit the funny work colleague into their film
- The film-maker acts in the film him or herself
- If they do have a casting, they cast the best looking actor rather than the best acting talent
- The film-maker is so set on a look for their lead character, that they will take a poor actor that looks like the image of the character they have in their head
- Worst of all, the film-maker casts someone they fancy as a boyfriend or girlfriend into the lead role. Acting talent, of course, overlooked.
The list of Casting blunders is endless so I will stop here and start looking at how to cast properly for a film. Casting is one of the areas we teach in detail on our Film Courses. We actually teach it via having an actual casting and running it like an actual casting. The following actions are taken:
1. Advertise in the relevant areas that you are having a casting. One we use on our film courses is Star Now which has many actors looking for films to act in.
2. Book a Casting Space like the one we have at the Indie Centre.
3. Send the actors details of the scene and film that they are auditioning for.
4. Have four crew at the casting – Director – Camera Operator – Reader and Assistant
5. Video all the castings.
6. Let the actor do it their way first. Then test the actor with direction on how they should act in the scene.
7. If they are average, move on quickly to the next actor. Once you find a good actor who can act, place them on a short list.
8. The next day, watch the video back of all of your castings and with your team decide on who you like most from your short list.
9. Bring the golden short list back again for a second test and try different combinations of actors with each other.
10. Watch the videos back with your team and decide on the very best actors and cast them.
It sounds simple on paper. If you do the above, this vital part of film-making will dramatically improve your film. If you have cast properly with talented screen actors who are the very best acting talent that you can find, the film will dramatically improve in quality and professionalism.
Of course, castings can last a long time. When we cast the weekend feature film “The Makeover” with our cast, we spent about 3o casting sessions of approximately 4- 5 hours each. That was 150 hours of casting. The time spent casting paid dividends with excellent performances and enthusiasm for the film.
The main benefits of Casting are the following:
- You find the best acting talent as they rise to the top
- You get to test out some of your scenes and see how they play
- Actors appreciate getting the part and they usually give more to the film
- You get to see which actors you get on with in the casting and can work with effectively
- The film’s core will be at its very best.
On our film courses we teach you how to cast properly via doing all of the above. There is nothing like doing it for real to learn how to do this job effectively.
Next Blog will cover the Locations and Art Department.
Colm O’Murchu is an active film-maker and film instructor at Australian Film Base. He is also the owner and regularly blogs about film-making.