Casting Tips In Video Production


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 the 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 Are Production Agencies Looking For?

What do video agencies look for when casting? Here are some of the questions I ask myself when casting for a role:

Does this person epitomise the brand?

Does the person immediately strike me with the essence of the brand? What adjectives do I think of when I look at this person? Are they synonymous with those that I think of in relation to the brand? This seems like a simple or intangible consideration but when you have the right person in front of you there is no ambiguity. You know it’s right.

Are they a great actor?

This again may seem obvious but all too often this becomes an afterthought for clients or agencies. The person’s look is absolute priority and their ability to perform is something that is far from presumed. I have always felt that a great Director can make a bad actor good, a good actor great and a great actor furious. However, having a strong actor with great instincts who can get a performance even halfway to where it needs to be is an immeasurable asset on set.

Will the client agree with me? Getting the Green Light.

Getting the green light from a client is always in the back of my mind when casting. A client may have a very clear vision and find it difficult to sway from that. Having a showreel that demonstrates something similar to the commercial we are making always helps. This can be a little frustrating when you can see an actor’s skills and know that they’ll bring something brilliant to a role, but the client can’t see that. Particularly when you have nothing to back up your feeling other than your fine-tuned instinct. This is why working on spec pieces can be so important for a new actor. To build a showcase of performances that show their strongest traits as a performer. To help me book them in!

Are They Sound?

More than anything else the ultimate consideration is how delightful a person the actor is to be around. This couldn’t be more important. If you’re the greatest actor who has ever lived but you make things difficult then I would cast a slightly less naturally gifted actor who has a great attitude ten times out of ten. And this isn’t about setiquette or behaving in any kind of special way, I’m referring here just to being nice. Being kind and considerate. The simplest thing in the world and I promise it goes a very long way. I remember my interactions with actors first before remembering their performance. And that is because actors are almost always some of the best people you could hope to meet. So, it definitely does make an impression on the very rare occasion that someone is less Nigella and more Cruella.

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!