Writer / Director
Oliver S. Milburn.
Casting is tough, no two ways about it. Like Emma said in the last blog, my first piece of advice would be to get a casting director. We didn’t/couldn’t, which made things a lot more difficult.
Of course, as a director you should know exactly what you’re looking for… a casting director is not there to cast for you. Their primary function, particularly at a low budget level, is the contacts and inroads they have into talent pools which otherwise you’ll have to work really really hard to access. Again, I’d say read Emma’s last blog about our experience trying to get (a) named actor involved, but basically if you don’t have a casting director you’re relying on doing what we did… stumbling luckily across really talented actors amid the ocean of profiles on services like casting call pro, spotlight and – shudder – starnow.
There’s no secret magic formula to casting, or to seeing the right person when they’re in front of you. It’s a case of seeing lots and lots and lots and lots of people and using a combination of factors to determine whether they’re suitable. What I would say is it’s not just the performance of the role on the day but also understanding of the character – once you’ve explained that character clearly. There’s no hard & fast way of doing it, but generally on the first audition we’d:
- Send a scene in advance, and have the actor perform it cold on arrival.
- I’d talk about my thoughts on the character and what I liked/was not so keen on in the first performance.
- Then we’d do it again with this new understanding of the character.
- I’d also ask the actor to prepare something – anything – for the audition.
Some people would give a great performance but not get the character, some would really get the character but the performance would be a bit off. It’d be a combination of logical deduction and gut feeling as to whether to call back for a second audition.
Its not just about how good they are, but how eager they are for the film. See my blog on crewing – basically the same principal applies. You want people who will go the extra mile because the extra mile will be needed.
Finally it remains to be said that the cast we picked were wonderful, both as artists and as people. I won’t go into individuals because I could talk a little on everyone, suffice to say if you get a chance to see the film, I hope you’ll agree there are faces there that deserve to become a lot more familiar to the public.