The way movies and Television shows cast their actors has stayed mostly the same since the invention of the motion picture camera. The producer submits a breakdown of what actors they are looking for to a casting office, the casting office posts this breakdown, hundreds (sometimes thousands) of actors submit their photo and resume in hopes of getting to read for the role, the casting office brings in a couple dozen actors to audition, then the producers choose from those auditions who they will cast, sometimes with a second round of auditions. Hollywood is not known for its innovation. Finally, in recent years the casting process has started to change with the increase of internet speeds and ease of sharing video. For my latest feature film Oktoberfest Movie, my fellow producers and I used a new kind of casting: Crowdcasting.
What is crowdcasting? It is an offshoot of crowdsourcing, something that we have been using for Oktoberfest Movie from day one. We are independent filmmakers and want to remain that way. We want to take our movies directly to the people who want to see them with the help of those same people and not have to ask the permission of a faceless corporate studio. One way that we did this with Ofest Movie was by crowdsourcing elements of the film. We launched our website with competitions such as “Name a Character,” “Submit a Drinking Game,” and “Your Oktoberfest Story.” All of these allowed fans of Oktoberfest to have their input in how our story would be told. The most successful campaign was our “Find Freddie Actor Search”. We allowed fans worldwide to submit an audition to play our lead actor and then allowed all of our fans to vote on which actor they wanted to see the most.
To do this, we posted the breakdown for Freddie directly to our website along with complete contest rules and the audition script. Actors were instructed to read the rules completely, record their auditions, and upload them to our site. The next step of their audition was to share their video on social media and solicit votes from family and friends. We had a submission deadline with an extra week of voting to allow late entries to catch up, and then we announced a top 10 based on acting ability, fit for the character, and amount of votes received. We brought in those 10 finalists for callbacks, most were in LA, and the others we met with over Skype. Each callback began with a live-stream interview with the actors, where our fans could ask them questions and get to know them better. We took into account everyone’s comments and ultimately the final decision was ours to make.
This way of casting has many benefits. First, you cut out the middleman allowing the actors to submit directly to the producers. This saves money for the production and allows everyone who is serious about the project to submit. The next benefit is that the actors’ auditions are taped at home where they are comfortable which in my opinion shows an actor most closely to how he will perform on set. There are many great actors who are horrible at auditioning in an office and for good reason. It just isn’t the kind of environment that you actually work in. The third benefit of doing open video submissions is the social media portion of the contest, accruing votes. This shows us how badly the actor wants to be involved, how active they are on social media, and what if any following they have online. For an independent production that is running a crowdfunding campaign, an actor’s online presence and willingness to promote himself is invaluable. Lastly, it allowed our fans to be involved from the beginning. We also gained new fans in the process because of the amount of traffic that was drawn to our website with the voting.
If you have any questions about crowdsourcing or crowdcasting please contact me. I will be happy to share the knowledge I’ve gained in this process. Thank you for reading!