I interned for a casting director in my early 20’s, and it was one of the best things I ever did for myself as an actor. Seeing how the audition process works from the other side is incredibly valuable and empowering, and if you get a chance to do it (even for a day or two as a reader) I highly recommend it! I recently got another taste of “the other side” in a different but equally important format: casting websites.
After spending the better part of this year writing two feature-length screenplays, I reached the point where I needed to enlist some awesome actors to bring the words to life. This is the first time in quite a few years that I’ve cast anything in a traditional manner—with my feature film that comes out in early 2019, To the New Girl, I cast essentially without auditions because of the nature of the project.
I thought it would beneficial to share some of my “actress-turned-producer” observations about this process.
- Slate Shots: I was using Breakdown Services (Actors Access) for this project, and I know people have been putting this out there for a few years, but I want to double down on how important having a great Slate Shot is.
- From my perspective, they are equally (if not more) important than your reel. I know that sounds crazy, but the Slate Shots are much simpler for casting to access just from a user standpoint. For reels, you have to click into a whole new window—the slate shot is available in the main screen.
- When you get hundreds of submissions, having to click through a new window for each one is a lot. I found myself really relying on the energy actors gave in that slate shot to determine whether they were right for the part I was casting.
- Some people are doing out of the box things here, like a very quick scene or a joke instead of a basic slate. In my opinion, you’d likely be best served by having a few standard slates (name, height, location, agency if applicable) that represent different character energies. Not necessarily an over-the-top “in character,” but something that gives a sense of the kind of roles you typically get out for.
- If you don’t have a Slate Shot on your account right now, go make one. The algorithm lists people who have them first before everyone else who submits.
- Age range: Submit for roles you are age-appropriate for, please! I noticed that this was much more of an issue with men than women (good job, ladies) but I seriously had some guys who were balding submitting for a 17-year-old. This is just silly.
- Eco-Casts: This was my first experience doing an Eco-Cast. I know that some actors hate self-taping, but I’ve always loved it. I think some of my best auditioning has been done when I get to tape… you just have so much more control of your performance and timing. So, as a producer I prefer to look at actors with tapes that they’ve had the opportunity and time to really put together, at least for initial auditions. Plus, it saves everyone on gas money, space, and time!
- My biggest tip for this: Submit as soon as you have time. The earlier the better. Most people submit right at the deadline, and casting gets all those videos to sift through at once. The 5-10 people who get in early are going to get a lot more time and attention, at least when it comes to independent filmmakers who have that extra time to keep checking in on who’s sent their tape in.
More than anything, this process helped me remember how fantastic actors are. I absolutely love getting auditions in and seeing what different people do with a script. I know it can often feel like you’re submitting for things, especially when you’re sending in a tape, and no one is paying attention to them. Please know that that isn’t true! I’m absolutely keeping track of submissions that I enjoyed, even if I don’t cast that person for this project I will keep them in mind for the next.