Sarah Clark, CSA
Casting can be the most exciting part of pre-production. It’s the first time a script comes to life and possibilities start to be realized. Unfortunately, budgets are always tight and some productions try to tackle casting on their own. Casting is a bear if you don’t have professional casting tools and connections.
If you’re crazy enough to cast on your own, keep these things in mind:
Not having a casting director is already going to make actors feel less sure about a project. If casting seems unorganized, sloppy, or frantic that’s a pretty clear indication that the rest of production will be too. Casting is the ambassador to talent from production.
Get acquainted with these tools to keep you organized:
Set up an email specifically for talent submissions.
Use GoogleDrive to sort out footage (I recommend you do it by role and name the files the actor’s names.)
GoogleDocs are great for schedules, notes, size sheets, cast list, and booking sheets.
Managing all this information is extremely difficult, especially with a big cast. Without access actual casting tools these will do fine.
Pick the right place
Let’s imagine you’re a 90lb, 17 year old girl walking into your audition space. Any twinges of doubt? Do you feel safe at this location? If there’s even an inkling that you don’t feel safe at a location, you’ve picked the wrong audition space.
Make sure you pick a safe, well lit, easily accessible location for casting. If you’re a student, use your school! If not, pick a place that actors know and will be comfortable in. Acting schools, theaters, and libraries are always good options. If actors don’t feel safe, they can’t do their best work. Giving them a place they can feel safe will get better performances. Everyone wins.
Keep your expectations in check
If you’re not using a casting director you’re not going to get access to the best talent. Period. It shows a lack of budget and/or a lack of professionalism and that's a tough sell. If you’re sending out blasts on social media, putting up posters, and (shuddering) reaching out directly to agents (usually asking for the best talent) you probably won’t get the best of the bunch because that’s not how it’s done. Maybe some good talent will get excited about the project and come out but don’t bank on it. You'll be treated as professionally as you present yourself - professional actors that you want don't look at anything else.
Using a casting director is always going to be the best option. We have years of experience finding finding the best actors, but more importantly, the best cast as a whole. Most of us are willing to work with small budgets, so give one of the offices in town a call to see if we can help. If all else fails, I hope this helps.