Casting talent for your video or TV commercial is probably the most important part of the whole production process. Get it wrong and your story falls flat. Get it right and it can be one of the most memorable and engaging elements.
So how can you improve the way you cast for paid talent? There are 4 key elements to get right, and when combined together will go a long way to helping your video be a success.
Tip 1. Write a detailed brief
Spending more time upfront crafting a better brief pays off in the long run. Your Creative Director will draft a Talent Brief based on your approved video script. The brief ensures the key character traits of your actors will align with your brand and resonate with your target audience. You will also save time on narrowing down the type of talent you need to audition for. For each character in your video compile the following preferences:
• Age, gender, ethnicity, size/shape, hair type
• Personality they are to convey based on the story
• Indicative wardrobe (sometimes they may come dressed up in character to the audition)
• Include a copy of the approved script
Tip 2. Take note of attitude
When actors show up for an audition (in person or virtual) there are a few key things to look out for. One of the most important attributes is their attitude. How they show up to the audition is likely be reflected in their behaviour on the day of the shoot. You want someone that;
• Turns up on time
• Communicates well by listening and sharing feedback
• Takes direction well and asks questions (this is a good sign!)
• Is accommodating and solution-orientated
• Looks and feels enthusiastic
• Is appreciative of the opportunity to be considered
Tip 3. Looks and sounds the part
When actors show up for an audition (in person or virtual) there are a few key things to look out for. One of the most important is their attitude. This will likely be reflected in their behaviour on the day of the shoot. You want someone that;
• Visually represents the character in an authentic way – i.e. they look the part
• Ticks most if not all the preferences on your brief - are you willing to compromise any?
• Has a tonality and projection of voice that conveys the character you want
• Has the right body language especially if there is a lot of action or interaction with props
Tip 4. Believable performance
Of course the most important element is how good are their acting skills. Sometimes you end up choosing a great actor over someone with a better look, as you can always manipulate this to some degree with hair, make-up, wardrobe, props, lighting and direction. What to look out for in regards to performance in the casting is:
• Improvisation – they try different things and don’t roll-out the same performance each take
• Believability – do you feel they are ‘acting’ or immersed in the character
• They bring something extra to the script and or character
• Connects well with the other actors – do they make a natural and believable fit?
Auditions are often done at the actors expense of time, so keep this in mind and be respectful. If they are not right for this video they may be for the next one. So take note of the talent that impressed you.
Good luck for your next video casting!
Simon Druery is Director and Brand Strategist at The Ideas Hatchery. What gets him jumping out of bed each day is helping business owners and marketers craft brands that people want to belong to. When he’s not working you can find him travelling Australia in the family caravan and enjoying a tawny port by the fire.