Would you believe me if I told you that getting actors for your low budget movie isn't some impossible task that only big budget movies can pull off? I used to worry about not being able to get actors for my projects, but now I realize that was irrational thinking.
A lot of us indie Filmmakers, especially younger ones, do get intimidated when it comes to casting. When I first moved to the US, my biggest fear was that I wasn't popular enough, or social enough, to find people who would want to be in my videos. From reading a few comments online, I realize this is a common fear among us.
No friends? No problem!
I don't mean that literally, of course—friends are actually good things to have. What I mean is that you shouldn't let your social circle dictate whether or not you can film something. Besides, I don't recommend using your friends (unless they're actors) in your projects anyways, so a small social circle is really no problem.
Actors are everywhere, and just like you're dying to make movies, they're also dying to be in movies whether or not they get paid (except Bruce Willis). When you think about it this way, it makes the process feel a hell of a lot less intimidating. When you add in the fact that there are way more actors than Filmmakers out there, you'll see why I think worrying about this is irrational thinking.
1. Write characters that actors actually want to play.
Before you go on your hunt for talent, first make sure you actually have great characters that will get actors excited. Actors go crazy at the opportunity to play interesting and compelling characters, so use that to your advantage. In my post on how to build a free reliable film crew I stress the importance of having the project benefit everyone involved, not just you. For actors, few things are more beneficial than a good juicy role.
2. Use your reel as a motivator.
Let's say an actor spends months working on a project, and the final result looks like a bad home video, what did they really gain? Adding footage from that movie to their reel would cheapen the whole thing, so usually projects like that end up being just a big waste of time for them. They'll be more cautious next time and only work with Filmmakers who can guaranty a quality product. You are that Filmmaker.
If you and your team can produce great quality content, you'll have no shortage of up-and-coming-actors wanting to be on your next film. After all, who doesn't want to be in a film that looks and sounds like "an actual Hollywood movie?" If you don't have a reel, go out and film creative shots with shallow depth of field (more shallow than I sound right now), then edit and color grade these shots into a cinematography reel. That alone will set you apart as someone with experience shooting.
3. Look for actors in these places:
Local theater groups - Don't believe the notion that local theater groups are only for stage acting. I've worked with a few actors from theater over the years, and they're usually as interested in film as they are in theater. Contacting local acting groups is great because the network is already built for you. You don't need to know a bunch of actors—they already do! They'll gladly post your casting call on their website, walls, and even send out e-mails to their members.
Colleges/acting schools - When I was in college, the film students and the acting students often collaborated on projects. Not all of them were great actors, but they were always enthusiastic about landing a part. Like theater groups, all it takes to get the ball rolling is to send your casting call to the acting department, and they'll get it to their students.
Craigslist and similar websites - The mighty Craigslist strikes again! I've never personally used Craigslist to find actors, but I've been involved in many projects that have, so I know it's a good place to look. A casting director friend of mine also recommended www.exploretalent.com as a good site to find actors, so give it a look. There are tons of websites dedicated to that, so do a quick search for more options.
4. Host an audition!
One very important piece of information in your casting call is the date and place for the audition. Unless you're not very picky about who you cast, an audition is pretty important. The whole point of getting your casting call out to so many people is so you can have a decent pool of actors to choose from. An audition doesn't have to be a big complicated thing either. Just know what you want, and interested actors will gladly come and show you what they got.
If you have a lot of experience hosting auditions and would like to share some tips with my audience, contact me and we'll set up a guest post!
Have a good story with characters people will want to play. Prove that working with you will be worthwhile. Get your casting call out to as many people as you can. Host an audition. Done!
Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts and questions in the comments below. If you know anyone who would benefit from this post, be sure to share it with them. As always, check out our Filmmaking products for all your post production needs. Until next time!