10 tips for casting your next short film

10959597_948777428466731_7462286224999387591_nAre you ready to leave behind casts made up by your family and friends? Take the next step in casting your short film with our tips below: based on years of facilitating local filmmaking. We prepared this in response to the lack of casting advice elsewhere.

1. Come to the next Kino Sydney screening and spend the pre-show, intermission, and post-show time to meet actors.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Of course we were going to plug our own activities but Kino Sydney Open Screen Film Nights are a great place to meet actors.

I say this from the years I spent as a regular punter of Kino Sydney. I’ve met and worked with actors who became something of muse and we shared long lasting creative relationships.

Kino Sydney attracts plenty of actors who want to meet filmmakers for experience and footage for their show reels. The actors from the films screening that night are often in attendance. You have the advantage of seeing their work on the big screen before approaching them to take on heroine role in your next epic. Just come ready to chat.

2. Sign up for an online casting forum

StarNow is an amazing resource that keeps its talent directory full of profiles and headshots. Have a browse around see who might suit your script. It does cost to contact them so make sure you watch some their clips before you do. You can also post an audition call out.

10959611_948774308467043_2941366848879759203_n3. Post a call out on Facebook and acting schools.

On Facebook: You might be surprised whom your non-actor friends and family know. Doing a call out even to your network may deliver some recommendations and results. Like any call out, just make sure it sounds like a fun and collaborative experience. Kino Sydney has a Filmmakers Guild group on which a call out may produce some results.

Acting Schools: Acting schools want to feed opportunities to their students. It is one of the reasons the students pay them money. That might have a notice board or send out weekly e-mails. Just have a poke around and find the appropriate contact.

4. Go to the local theatre.

Attend local theatre and familiarise yourself with the local talent that is around. Go up and chat to the actors after the show and form a connection before you start talking about your own work. Actors are looking for all the experience they can get and you might be surprised who is interested. We aren’t talking about Sydney Theatre – but The Old Fitz, Old 505 Theatre, and Rock Surfers.

1378579_948778318466642_5652276984617956977_n5. Make the experience of acting for you attractive and beneficial.

Directors want to work with actors who can act. Actors want to work with directors who can direct. If you want to attract actors to your film, link to your previous work and be ready to pitch the project to them. Form a relationship and keep it going, giving them updates on what is happening with the film at all stages.

If you are hoping they will do it for free, make sure you offer them everything you can: travel costs and access to all the footage for show reels.

6. Make sure the actors you cast can do what you want them to do.

Auditions are a great way to do this. That is assuming you have a choice of actors and the resources to do auditions. Either way make sure you have a conversation with the potential actors about what they will be required to do in an honest way. I’ve had problems where only half way through a shoot I realised my actor could not turn on the waterworks. I’ve heard horror stories from actors who have been confronted with requests for a sexualised delivery of a scene they were not expecting.10311857_948773821800425_7378790325062835903_n

7. Hire a casting agent.

Enlist an agent to work with you on casting. They will already have a talent portfolio on hand and make informed suggestions for the role. They do cost money though.

8. Cast the right non-actors10175986_948773981800409_3494799502174566669_n

We’ve all heard the success stories of award winning feature films with non-actors. This works when non-actors live and breath experiences similar to the character. It also helps to find the ones who ooze personality.

9. Build relationships with your actors.

Found a great actor who thinks you’re a great director? Keep casting them. Actor-Director relationships can be incredibly rewarding for both parties for ease of work and managing to draw out the best in each other.

396460_358231987521281_1597367194_n10. Screen your work at Kino Sydney (or other short film screenings).

We’ve already mentioned that plenty of actors come to our screenings and they are out at other film screenings. Actors are professional networkers and they are there looking to meet filmmakers.

Screen your best film at Kino Sydney and if it is really up to scratch you won’t have to be introducing yourself to everyone you can. The actors will be lining up to talk to you. Register to screen at Kino here.