You’ve got your script and you’re ready to cast…...but where do you start? Here are a few pointers on how to find the right talent for your production, and some key aspects to consider for the casting process.Casting Calls
Casting calls are notices made to the public or casting agencies for requirements of actors for an upcoming production. Websites like The Right Fit allow you to post these directly to talent who can apply, or you can send to a casting agency who will send you back options.
It’s important to include as much detail on what you are looking for in the role, don’t be scared to be specific, if you aren’t you might not find the right person.
As a minimum, a casting call should include the Talent Budget, Gender, Age Bracket and Ethnicity/Nationality you are looking for. Additional information that will help narrow down the search includes; Hair Colour, Eye Colour, Hair Length, Facial Hair, Height, Weight, personality to be portrayed (e.g. Mum, Politician).
Cost for Talent Online and Social Content
Talent roles can include Extra, Featured Extra, Speaking Role and Lead Talent. The rates for talent differ depending on which role they are undertaking. For online or social content rates for each role are usually between $200/day - $60/hr for an Extra, $400/day - $800/day for Featured Extra, $500/day - $2,000/day for Speaking Role/Non-Speaking Lead, and $1,000 - $3,000 for a Lead Role.
Cost for Talent TVC
Unlike online or social content talent for TVCs work on a usage rate rather than in perpetuity. The industry standard time frame for usage is 12months from initial air date, and will need to be renewed for each consecutive year the TVC goes to air.
Talent (including VO artist) are also charged at a higher rate for TVCs then for online or social content, so it’s important to factor this into your budget.
For a lead role in a commercial the rate is usually between $3,000 - $10,000.
On occasion, you may have unpaid talent. This may be in the form of extras, real people portraying themselves or featured observers (at an event or stunt). In these instances, you must ensure you obtain a Performance Release from each of them. This is a legal document they must sign that acknowledges they will not be paid for the use of their image or likeness in association with the content produced.
Look Book vs Auditions
In an ideal world, we would have auditions for all talent casting. A casting director would send out a casting call, develop a short list of candidates and hold auditions. Casting auditions are attended by Producers & Directors, or the casting agent would video tape them and send through for review.
Some budgets however can’t stretch that far, but luckily, we live in a digital age and we are now able to cast through online look books. Headshot casting involves casting based on headshots and portfolios alone, usually through a talent agencies online books. This style of casting does have pitfalls; talent not looking quite the same on the day, not being able to act the part etc. Best used only if unavoidable and ideally with non-speaking roles. Where possible ask short list talent to provide a quick at home video audition from their phone, it’s not perfect and can’t beat a live audition, but this will at least give you an opportunity to see how they read on camera and if they will be a good fit.
It’s important to factor your talent costs into your budget to ensure you are covered for any potential casting and usage right. For more information on including talent within your budget check out our post on Production budgets!