In the follow post you will learn about 5 different ways you can find actors for your student and independent films. You will also learn about how to audition actors in a fast and effective way.
I also recently started a YouTube channel on film careers & filmmaking which you may be interested in - find me here
When starting out in your filmmaking career it is unlikely you will have the money to pay actors. Beginner and student actors are on the look out for film projects to work on.
Being part of an amateur production helps actors practice their craft, build up their show reel and meet more filmmakers in the industry.
*If you are new to filmmaking feel free to ask friends and family to act in your films. Even if they are not actors this is an easy way to cast your film and practice directing.
You might like to read - Casting Revealed By Hester Schell.
How to find actors for student films
1. Drama Schools and Clubs
School and College drama classes or local drama clubs. Where ever you live in the world there will be an acting club near you. Ask the drama teacher or club organiser if you can talk to the acting students about your production. I used this method for casting the short films I made in school, it is an easy way to approach a large pool of actors all in one place.
2. Online Casting Sites
There are several actors casting sites online. I will list the major ones but you may need to search for local sites that feature actors near you. Even a student film can attract a professional actor if they like the screenplay.
Backstage a has a huge dictionary of actors (Mainly for USA and London Work). There is a monthly fee but this might be worth it for larger independent productions.
Star Now allows you to post a casting call for free (There is a small monthly charge if you wish to use all of their services). They have a few countries featured on their lists.
*I found Star Now to be particularly useful for casting child actors my last short film. I provided my details and they done a CBS check on me which allowed me to set up auditions for the child actors with there parents.
Mandy is very useful for finding cast and crew for your film. They mainly focus on actors in the UK, USA, INDIA, CANADA & AUSTRALIA. There is a monthly fee for using their service, you can try out Mandy for free for one month.
3. Facebook Groups
If you are not already using Facebook groups to interact with local filmmakers online you may be missing out on a trick!
To find cast and crew for your film use the Facebook search bar as you would Google to find groups near you.
For example - I type into the search bar Actors UK. I make sure I am on the group board tab and check out the results -
Most countries and cities will have Facebook groups dedicated to Cast and Crew. Uses Search keywords words such as Filmmaking, Casting, Actors, Film Crew as well as your Cities name. When I type in Chicago Film I have a lot of search results with groups featuring casting calls and film crew jobs.
4. Posters and Advertising
The old way of casting actors for a movie was to put up ads in local newspapers. This may still work if you want a large amount of local people for a production. Creating posters and leaflets can work. Place these posters in Drama schools, Drama clubs, Community noticeboards and local theatres. When you approach actors in Drama schools you could always pass them a leaflet with more information about the project.
A professional 'even well known' actor might take an interest in your project if they like the script. Occasionally professional actors perform in shorts films to try out different roles they wouldn't normally be cast within. An agent may also cast their actor in a low budget film to improve their show reel or expand their acting experience.
To find an agency simple use Google to search for local agencies. Your more likely to find an actor if they live close to your production location.
In my example I use the search - Casting Agencies in Liverpool. I found my cities Film office that gave me a list of local acting agencies I could contact
How to audition Actors?
I am now going to show you my easy way of casting actors for a film. First you will need to book out a room to hold the auditions within. This could be a community centre or free school classroom. I found that local pubs and bars in my city had events rooms which you could hire out for free.
You should ideally have the phone number and email address of each actor who has shown interest in the production. Email each actor a copy of the screenplay before you audition.
The aim of the audition is to - See if they can act and are a good fit for the role - and also to Make sure you both get along well enough to work with one another.
Book out time slots for each actor (you will need 15-20 minutes per actor so you will be able to see 2-3 actors every hour).
5-10 minutes - Introductions and a brief outline of the production and story. Let the actor know whats dates you where looking to shoot the film on and what you expect from them.
5-10 minutes - Take some photographs of the actor for your reference later. Ask the actor to read out a scene from the script. You can help them with this and give a little direction. Record this audition with a camera - How each actor looks and behaves on camera will be different.
Look back at the audition footage - even with a simple read through a good actor will stand out. If you need a second audition, ask the actors back to try out another scene read through on camera.
Be certain to contact all actors - thanking them for their time and let them know if they got the part or not.
Now over to you which one of these 5 methods will you be using to cast your next production?
You can find me via Twitter here - @amyclarkefilms
Resources - Star Now - How to cast actors article | Film Look - When you can't pay your Cast and Crew Video | Indie Film Hustle - How to cast a no-budget indie film Podcast Casting Directors Casting Revealed By Hester Schell.