In this post I will be speaking about the casting process we carried out for the actors in our short film.
The first step we took was making and building our character profiles. We first needed to understand them before we could cast them. I spoke about this in further detail in my previous post.
Casting Call Pro
We used a site called casting call pro as our main reach for actors. We posted all of the available roles on here and waited for public interaction. This was extremely successful as we had over 80 applicant apply for the roles which is a testify to the quality of our synopsis and our branding which we had to post on our profile. The site is very clear and easy to use which made this process very easy and enjoyable. After we posted the roles we sat back and waited for the applicants to get in touch with us before we started sort through who we wanted to offer initial auditions to. The casting director for the film Rikita Samuel was on hand to help me choose what actors best suited the roles. We went through all the candidates and had an initial phone audition where we would speak through the role with them and explain what was required. This process was extremely crucial because it helped us to decipher who was actually interested in the role and who just applied aimlessly. The successful candidates were then put through to the physical auditions which we held in Beckton community centre. Two weeks before the physical auditions we sent the candidates either original pieces of O.N.W material to rehearse or other well known published text to perform at the venue. The auditions were broken down into three parts. The teens were first, then the young children (under 18) and the adults followed last. We put the teens first because this was suppose to be our largest group and for this part of the day we had the largest room available. Truth be told the initial physical audition was not as successful as we inticpated. Many of the adult actors were not able to make the saturday auditions and opted for a video audition which is just not as useful as the physical auditions. For our last section of the auditions which was suppose to be for the roles of the ‘Doctor’ and ‘Frank’ only one candidate showed up which was very disappointing. I’am not quite sure why this was. Maybe it was due to the lack of financial incentive or perhaps because of the convenience of a video audition. What ever the reason was this is something we need to work on because a poor turn out basically means we waste our money, time, and it makes it harder to gauge if the actor meets the requirements. After this audition were not completely happy with the talent found, so we went back on the website to revise our options. We then handed out video auditions to a number of candidates which proved more successful. Our success rate with video auditions compared to the physical may be indication of how digital and online the industry is becoming. Either way this is an experience I will only learn from.
We soon realised that Casting Call Pro was not a broad enough reach for our actor search. So we took to social media. We made a poster from a screen grab of one of our other sucessful projects, a cover of Ella Henderson’s ‘Missed’ by Bigfaith and Tolu. We used this screen grab because we knew many of our audience members had probably seen or heard of the cover. In theory this would help grab attention on the different media platforms as they would be familiar with the imagery. We also used different fonts and sizes on the poster to make it interesting for the viewer, although we limited our range of colours to red, white, and black as these colours are generally associated with our themes of love and pain. (Art therapy) The casting director and I the director knew that the social media route would enable us to get the interest of raw and young talent which may not be on a site like Casting call pro. We understood or market by undergoing some secondary research. ‘There are 15 million active users in the UK for the microblogging site Twitter with almost two thirds of the users being under the age of 34’ (The last hurdle, Jules White). We knew where are audience were we just had to come up a strategy to get them interested. We visited a site called ‘http://www.tweriod.com’ which informed us of the best times to tweet which were ‘3pm – 4pm’ and ‘7pm – 8pm’. For the most part it worked. We recieved a flurry of responses to the posts which was great. After our set deadline we then proceeded to give out video auditions which Rikita and I sat through after they were sent in. We then began to eliminate the unsuccessful applicants and then started holding rehearsals with the chosen cast few weeks after. Cutting candidates was a hard and delicate process. Some actors were good but didn’t quite fit the visual description of the character which is unfortunate. One of the applicants had a huge twitter following as he is a young and up coming comedian/ actor which made him very appealing for marketing purposes. He’s audition was also very good although we could not cast him due to his complexion, he went for the role of ‘Daniel’and the younger Daniel Louie Lucas who ended up being casted for the role was much lighter in comparison to the comedian. If we opted to go for the comedian this would’ve jeopardised the continuity and the realism of our film. In the future I will focus more of my attentions on social media because this is also a reliable pool of talent.
The Kids (Agency)
Finding the kids was no easy task. Casting call pro does not enable you to hire anyone under the age of 18. Although they do have a similar site called Kids casting call pro. The results from our initial search was not very strong. It lacked young black males for the role of ‘Daniel’. We initially aimed to avoid going through other external agency as they tend to be very expensive in comparison to Casting call pro. In a panic we tried to ask friends and family friends if they knew anyone who fit our description. This was very unsuccessful. Everyone was either too busy to drop their kids to the auditions/ rehearsals or the child had no acting experience. This should not have come as any surprise as this is these are the sorts of responses you receive when you generally deal with family or friends. From my experience it becomes more of a favour than a professional job, and generally this is where the problems start. We finally faced our fears by contacting agencies. One of them being Alphabetkidz. They had a wide range of candidates from various different ethnic backgrounds which was very helpful. We were able to complete our search on this site. We called a number of their clients in for a group audition which took place on the same day as all the other physical auditions. We were able to gauge which kids could make the cut by playing certain improve games, freeze frames, memory games, judging their general interaction with the other kids and their confidence levels.The casting director and I then had the tough task of choosing a good pairing of small Billy’s and Daniel’s. We had to take into consideration sizes, how it would look on camera, chemistry and so fourth. These two actors would also have to match up with the older pairing in terms of appearance. After going back and fourth for weeks we sorted out the paper work and costs for the kids. After all that boring stuff our focus turned to the character development. From this experience I have learnt that I have to be more flexible when looking for actors especially wen there is a very specific criteria. I also have to leave more time for the paper work to clear as we cut it very thin in this project.
Below is a video of all the casted actors in the film.
Blogger. 2015. Art Therapy. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.arttherapyblog.com/online/color-meanings-symbolism/#.VwCNEulEC_thttp://www.thelasthurdle.co.uk/demographics-of-uk-social-media-users/. [Accessed 22 March 2016].
Jules White. 2015. The Demographics of UK Social Media Users. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.thelasthurdle.co.uk/demographics-of-uk-social-media-users/. [Accessed 22 March 2016].
Blogger. 2015. Tweriod. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.tweriod.com. [Accessed 22 March 2016].