Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 25
  1. Collapse Details
    How to CAST a Movie
    #1
    Moderator Zak Forsman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Los Angeles
    Posts
    8,251
    Default
    i'm starting a new series at NEW BREED called “How to BLANK a Movie“. NB Filmmakers were asked to contribute all of their personal guidelines, DOs and DON’Ts on a variety of topics – casting, writing, directing actors, editing and distribution.

    Everybody loves lists, myself included! Today I’ll start with “CASTING“. What’s fascinating here is not only what the filmmakers share in common, but the more unique insights that have emerged in their own processes. Some great advice in here…

    • MARK HARRIS >>
    • The first thing that comes to mind is, do not, under any circumstances, hold auditions in your home. I’ve heard of people doing it without actors minding, but it’s such a massive violation of professionalism in my mind, I would never, ever insult an actor by doing it.
    • But the other thing I’ve started really doing is asking for a reel. In 2009, EVERY actor should have a reel online. It saves everyone so much time, and allows you to see the actor in the context of a movie.
      When they come in, I always put them on camera. It’s old Hollywood-think, but I think it’s absolutely true that the camera likes some people and does not like others. This has most to do with the actor’s ability to leave themselves alone when a camera’s on them. This is extremely difficult to do, but absolutely imperative to a film. It’s what separates a good screen actor from a bad. It’s also what makes someone a movie star.
    • I never ask to see a monologue. I give them sides, and then work with them as if a rehearsal. Again, the key thing I need in the audition is that they can absolutely leave themselves alone and behave as if no one is watching.
    • I never ask them to mime anything. Nothing is dumber to me than this. If the script says: “She picks up a glass,” I tell them to ignore it.
    • I am always shocked in auditions, how many actors don’t understand how to act for camera. Many don’t seem to understand that when performing on camera, you don’t have to do a single thing to communicate your intentions, feelings, etc. You just have to be. The camera will see everything. So I see a lot of actors come in and sort of flail about, until I stop them, sit them down and get them to do nothing. Like James Cagney said: “You walk in, plant yourself squarely on both feet, look the other fella in the eye, and tell the truth.” Deceptively simple, but profoundly accurate advice for acting on camera.

      MIKE HEDGE >>
    • Cast someone who wants to make the role their own. In the end it will look more real on screen….

      KEVIN K. SHAH >>
    • Ask actors if they are available for your shooting dates BEFORE the audition.
    • Shoot your auditions as well as your Q&A afterwards with actors you like.
    • Have actors that are called back read with each other if they have scenes together.
    • Ask actors to improvise a scene using simple objectives like: You want to leave, she wants to stay.
    • Ask actors what favorite movie role they wish they were cast in / they could have played (tells you a lot about your actor’s aspirations)
    • Audition scenes that are NOT in the film, but show a variety of “changes” in emotion, pacing, and thought.
    • Do not cast anyone that blinks too much. You can’t control it on-the-day or in the edit.

      JUSTIN EVANS >>
      DO:
    • take months to cast. If you can cast for 10 hours a day, six days a week for three months you have only begun to be on the right track.
    • write lengthy character descriptions for every role no matter how small. If you trivialize how you
    • treat your own characters why would actors not do the same?
    • write a director’s statement and include it with the materials for your actors. You are auditioning for your actors as much as they are auditioning for you.
    • use breakdown services and actors access as the backbone of your audition process. It is free and if you manage this correctly it will lead to thousands of submissions.
    • attend all casting sessions yourself. After the screenplay, this is the greatest set of decisions you’ll make as a filmmaker.
    • provide water in the front room. A case of water will last all day and cost you $8.00. It will surprise the actors auditioning. It will help them relax. It will enhance their performance. It will separate you from the rest of the filmmaking world who spend money on a fancy space but provide nothing for the actor.
    • rent the cheapest space you can find. Putting money into your audition space is ego-driven.
    • Who are you trying to fool? If you’re budget is 2 million or less any money spent on the space is money not spent on the movie.
    • provide lengthy sides two weeks in advance of the audition. Most auditions provide minimal sides the night before an actor is to audition. Is it any wonder most actors show up unprepared?
      insist that the actors are off book. If you’ve been a professional and provided sides two weeks in advance then there is nothing wrong with insisting that the actors have their sides memorized.
      be kind, be patient, be quiet, be humble…and after the actor leaves be critical, picky, demanding, cynical and require definitive proof that an actor can fully deliver what you need.

      DON’T:
    • spend your money on a casting director if you have less than $500,000.00 USD to make your film. You can’t afford a great casting director, you can’t afford to exploit a casting director’s relationships with famous actors and you can’t expect a casting director to take your film seriously.
    • Spend that money on your space, on water and on yourself, so you can attend every day and sift through the actors on your own.
    • be surprised when you discover that casting is slow, boring, tedious and painful. If you see 100 actors you’ll be lucky to find one actor worth casting. That’s the ratio, that’s the business, that’s your job…and if you don’t like it then get out of film now.
    • write character names like “Joe” or “Girl #2″ or “Crazy Guy”. Any good actor simply ignores these types of postings on Actor’s Access.
    • expect good actors to audition if you aren’t paying them. How many auditions do you think they’ve been to where a director says “We’ll supply you with a DVD when we finish the project. And, we’ll feed you every day.” If you offer $50.00 a day you’ll immediately jump into the top 10% of auditions on Actor’s Access.
    • neglect to put one of your trusted teammates in your front room acting as the receptionist. The front room is where actors are the most honest. Have your receptionist write down every time an actor undermines another actor, is rude to someone else, takes two bottles of water instead of one, refuses to share sides or treats the receptionist as anyone less than the direct line to the producer. The audition begins in the front room.
    • Show up late to your own audition. Seriously. You look like a jackass.
    • forget to provide a qualified actor to read across from the other actors. If you can’t afford to hire one, then audition actors two at a time so they become their own readers. If you have a non-actor read lines it kills the performance of the actors auditioning for you. You’ll get false-negatives. Your job at every turn is to enable actors to do their best. If you do everything in your power to help actors do their best 1% will rise to the challenge…and as low as that percentage is, given enough time you’ll find the cast you need to make a killer movie.
    • cast for faces, height, eye color, hair color, breast size or body type. It’s fair to expect an actor to be in shape. However, unless your project is about lifeguards or male strippers, who cares if they have a six-pack? Actors of ordinary stature, looks and fitness have an ability to take on the aura of a superstar if they can bring a character to life. When you cast for a face, that’s all you’ll get. When you cast for a performance you’ll get both. Dustin Hoffman looks like a movie star. Why? Because he’s an amazing actor. Robert De Niro looks like a movie star? Why? Because he’s an amazing actor. Casting for physical attributes in any way is the surest way to guarantee you’ll look past every actor who could have transformed your movie into something special.
    • apologize for being picky, perfectionistic or demanding. Any good actor will respect this. Any great actor will be far more demanding of themselves than you ever could be. And, if this turns off some actors then you’ve done yourself a favor. It is best to scare away wannebes early on than cast them and realize halfway through a project that they never understood how anyone can make a movie, but only the exceptionally brave and driven can make a great one.
    • Excuse tardiness, rudeness or lack of preparation from an actor. If you’ve done the above you’ve proven yourself to be exceptionally responsible and respectful of the acting process. Therefore, it is fair for you to expect the same from those auditioning for you.

      GARY KING >>
      DO
    • be courteous
    • give sides in advance to the actors
    • audition the actors in the waiting room — evaluate their demeanor the moment they check in with the casting assistant
    • give direction during the audition to see if the actors listen

      DON’T
    • approach the characters only looking for a specific type in mind or you may lose out on someone special
    • tell people you will get back to them if you don’t plan to — just thank them for their time

      ZEKE ZELKER >>
      DO
    • audition as many people as possible for a role. If you aren’t finding who you need hold auditions in another city
    • Hire a great casting director if you can, they can me a valuable resource.
    • Hire actors who you have seen act before
    • If there is nudity involved: be upfront, describe exactly how the scene will be shot and why the scene matters. During call backs ask the potential cast member to get undressed to the point required in the script, with a member of your team present of the same sex of the potential cast member
    • Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse

      DON’T
    • Hire friends
    • Hire actors who worry about how they look
    • Sleep with any of your cast
    • Take advantage of anyone
    • Vacillate, make a firm decision and stick to it, if not your cast will walk all over you
    DOWN AND DANGEROUS is now on iTunes :: A smuggler bleeds like anyone else. He just gets more chances to prove it.
    THE SABI COMPANY :: FACEBOOK :: TWITTER :: IMDB :: #DADmovie


    Reply With Quote
     

  2. Collapse Details
    #2
    Bronze Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Chicago, always and forever
    Posts
    1,271
    Default
    Wow. Really awesome and helpful! My dad is a life-long equity stage guy here in Chicago (and is being super awesome by appearing in later episodes of my webseries) and he's just now started doing lots of commercial work and auditioning. Definately going to forward this to him. I think it will help (sure helps me!!)


    Reply With Quote
     

  3. Collapse Details
    #3
    Senior Member Ted Spencer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    NYC
    Posts
    3,253
    Default
    Re: one of Justin Evans' "DO" list items:

    "Insist that the actors are off book. If you’ve been a professional and provided sides two weeks in advance then there is nothing wrong with insisting that the actors have their sides memorized."

    -----------

    I disagree strongly here, especially on the "insisting" part. If you're auditioning 100 actors (or possibly many more) for one role that will pay them little or nothing, I find it very presumptuous, and yes, even arrogant, to 'insist' that all 100+ of them memorize the sides. Who the hell do *you* think you are, buster?

    Actors audition *constantly*, and get cast only a very small percentage of the time. Fully memorizing audition sides takes many of us (yes, I act too, as well as write, direct, shoot, etc.) a substantial length of time, quite possibly hours. Some actors are quick memorizers and some are not, and that trait has *nothing to do* with their real acting ability. If all actors were compelled memorize the sides for their auditions, even if only the ones they got well in advance, they'd probably starve because they'd never have any time to do *anything else*.

    Harrumph!

    : )

    Furthermore, from the other side of the table, in my own experiences with casting, auditions by actors who attempted to be off-book were often negatively impacted by it. Watching an actor get that 'deer in the headlights' look on his/her face as they struggle to remember a word or line does *not* a quality audition make. I have actually found myself annoyed at actors due to this, like "please stop showing off that you (mostly) memorized the lines, and show me what you can do as an actor, dammit". I don't *care* if you've memorized it. Star-Kist wants actors that can *act*, Charlie Tuna, not just memorize...

    I found that the actors who had prepared well, but 'took it off the page' from the sides in hand as needed generally did a better job of acting. This is also the way I audition as an actor, and I have been fortunate enough to get cast for about 30% of the roles I've auditioned for.

    FWIW, in the feature I co-wrote and cast about a dozen paying roles for last year we didn't hire a single one of the numerous actors who took it upon themselves to audition off-book. Why? Because they got out-acted by others who didn't...
    Last edited by Ted Spencer; 10-23-2009 at 11:34 AM.
    "Behind the shelter in the middle of a roundabout
    A pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray
    And though she feels as if she's in a play
    She is anyway"

    From "Penny Lane" by Lennon/McCartney


    Reply With Quote
     

  4. Collapse Details
    #4
    Senior Member Ted Spencer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    NYC
    Posts
    3,253
    Default
    I should have added that Zak's post is full of excellent observations by the many who contributed, and Justin Evans's were by no means an exception. He made lots of great, well thought out points. I really only took exception with that one...strongly...but just that one.
    "Behind the shelter in the middle of a roundabout
    A pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray
    And though she feels as if she's in a play
    She is anyway"

    From "Penny Lane" by Lennon/McCartney


    Reply With Quote
     

  5. Collapse Details
    #5
    Moderator Zak Forsman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Los Angeles
    Posts
    8,251
    Default
    ted, what does "off-book" mean?
    DOWN AND DANGEROUS is now on iTunes :: A smuggler bleeds like anyone else. He just gets more chances to prove it.
    THE SABI COMPANY :: FACEBOOK :: TWITTER :: IMDB :: #DADmovie


    Reply With Quote
     

  6. Collapse Details
    #6
    Pain in the ass Mark Harris's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    BKLYN
    Posts
    7,133
    Default
    Off book means you know the lines. You no longer have to hold the script as you work.


    Reply With Quote
     

  7. Collapse Details
    #7
    Senior Member Ted Spencer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    NYC
    Posts
    3,253
    Default
    Right. Off book = memorized. Book = the script.
    "Behind the shelter in the middle of a roundabout
    A pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray
    And though she feels as if she's in a play
    She is anyway"

    From "Penny Lane" by Lennon/McCartney


    Reply With Quote
     

  8. Collapse Details
    #8
    Steak Knife Member David G. Smith's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Detroit MI
    Posts
    4,125
    Default
    Excellent post, thanks.
    "The enemy of art is the absence of limitations"
    -Orson Wells.

    "To me the great hope is... people that normally wouldn't be making movies will make them and suddenly some little fat girl in Ohio will be the new Mozart and will make a beautiful film using her father's camera-corder and the "Professionalism" of movie making will be destroyed forever and it will finally become an art form."
    -Francis Ford Coppola.


    Reply With Quote
     

  9. Collapse Details
    #9
    Senior Member Michele Seidman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Wilmywood: "Where the Carolina Moon Meets the Hollywood Stars!" ™ (NC baby)
    Posts
    637
    Default
    Great post and agree on 99.9%

    One thing though....why not hire a new casting person who does not charge a lot but wants to break their way in just like new actors? Even a new casting person can help short cut a lot.

    You mentioned seeing 100 potential people to find 1 good talent. If the casting person is worth their weight...they will only call in the top 5 or 10 actors for a part and you won't have to sift through tons of bad actors.

    I have done casting on the side for indies and don't get paid a lot but you can ask those I have helped and they will tell you it short cuts a lot of issues. Even be willing to talk to a good acting teacher who wants to move over to casting...they often know tons of actors, even ones they did not train. Offer them a little money and a credit and you may find yourself speeding up the process a ton without eating away at your budget!

    Just a thought...I really do think you hit everything else right on the button!

    And ditto what DJ said about those who have only cast background....

    PS...on the 'off book' debate...if the actor got the script 2 weeks ahead and knows what scene...they SHOULD be off book. If they can't get off book for a scene within 2 weeks...they may have big problems on set. BUT...if they got the script that day or a day before...Cold Reading is still the norm...script in hand!
    Last edited by Michele Seidman; 10-25-2009 at 01:58 PM. Reason: spelling issues as always
    Sincerely,
    Flora Barren (A Little Mouth to Feed)
    aka Michele Seidman
    imdb / 800Casting / Actors Access / Michele and the Midnight Blues




    Reply With Quote
     

  10. Collapse Details
    #10
    Senior Member Ted Spencer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    NYC
    Posts
    3,253
    Default
    Quote Originally Posted by Michele Seidman View Post
    PS...on the 'off book' debate...if the actor got the script 2 weeks ahead and knows what scene...they SHOULD be off book. If they can't get off book for a scene within 2 weeks...they may have big problems on set. BUT...if they got the script that day or a day before...Cold Reading is still the norm...script in hand!
    If you've hand-picked 5 or 6 known high quality actor candidates as you advocated above, and given them the sides 2 weeks in advance, then definitely - off book should be expected. But if you're calling 100 or more? For a low-paying gig, micro-indie gig? No way. Not in this man's army...
    "Behind the shelter in the middle of a roundabout
    A pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray
    And though she feels as if she's in a play
    She is anyway"

    From "Penny Lane" by Lennon/McCartney


    Reply With Quote
     

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •