Want to know what video production agencies consider when casting for a role? Read on…
Commercial video production is like putting together a jigsaw without the benefit of the final picture being on the box. The final picture is in the mind of the client, the mind of Director and the mind of the Producer. In pre-production, we do everything we can to ensure that those perceptions of what the final product will look like are aligned. We storyboard, we script and we scout to be certain that the production team, creative team and client are all in agreement that we are producing the ad that we all imagined (which is ALWAYS perfect!)
Casting is one aspect of video production where we can have a lot of control, and even gives a good indication of what the finished article will look like. On the surface it seems easy – choose people with the look. With no distinct characteristics or parameters, it would be impossible to draw up a tick list of features that constitute the look, yet we all know it when we see it. So while it should be as simple as compiling a shortlist of actors with that perfect, aspirational, attractive but not too attractive, approachable look and sending it to the client, in reality, casting is a lot trickier.
What do video agencies look for when casting? Here are some of the questions I ask myself when casting for a role:
Do they look like the product?
Casting is a big responsibility. We are choosing people to represent a brand. A brand that no doubt has been slaved and poured over, tweaked and nuanced. So it is absolutely vital to choose somebody that personifies the brand. Video is obviously a visual medium and there are few visual images that we draw more information from than a face. Before one word of text reaches the audience they have already made a multitude of observations and determinations about the person in front of them that will inform the way they feel about the product and brand. This visual shorthand is imperative to telling a story in a 30-second commercial. It’s all in the look.
Can they act?
Whether casting for a huge TV commercial or a stripped back online social media ad, there is a story to be told. Finding someone with a look the encapsulates the brand or product can be relatively tricky. Trickier still is finding the people within that shortlist that have the skill and craft to deliver your story. There’s no doubt that some roles require more acting chops than others but casting a talented and dedicated actor in any role adds a level of quality to your production that, while intangible, is markedly observable.
Will the client approve?
By the time we get to the casting stage of production, this video will have been bouncing around a client’s head for a few months. This can mean that the client has very specific ideas, particularly for the cast. As a production and creative team, we know through experience that when we’ve found an actor both capable and malleable enough, who also has the right look, that we will draw the perfect performance from them. Sometimes however, our clients may not have the experience of casting and producing commercials and will understandably need a little more assurance before signing off on a casting choice. In these instances, a show-reel with examples of work similar to the piece we are casting, or a strong self-tape audition/in-person audition is the best tool we have for showcasing a performer to a client.
Only one casting consideration is more important than these three – Is the actor good to work with?
Video production is fun and we want to keep it that way for us, and more importantly, for our clients. We’re providing a service as well as a product so we only collaborate with people who share our philosophy of working hard to create the best possible film while having a great time. This also extends to the actors we work with. We’re going to be spending a lot of time together from pre-production to the shoot and beyond so it’s vital for producing the best possible film that we cast people who are energising, inspiring and great fun to be around.
At Groundbreak we have strived to gather a wide roster of performers that we have brilliant relationships with who are aesthetically versatile, dynamically talented, studious with preparation and most importantly are absolute huns!
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