Film Casting: The Process Explained | Ken Lazer Casting
Film casting is a core part of the pre-production process. Acting agencies hold auditions to fill background and major roles in a project. All of the information in this article is verified by established NYC casting directors, seeing as NYC casting companies have proved to have the best talents.
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Film Casting is one of the pre-production processes. It involves the selection of actors to play select roles in a play, movie, TV show, or commercial. Producers and directors will contact a casting director to supervise the whole casting process. It consists of auditions, screen tests, and call-backs.
Often, the casting director hires a team to facilitate the organizational and administrative aspects of the casting process. It is the job of the casting director to find the best candidates for the roles then create a shortlist of options for the producers and directors to help in making the final decisions.
There are cases where established actors are allowed to skip movie auditions and are offered the roles based on how good their prior performances were or how much following of a particular target audience they have garnered.
Why Is Casting Important?
Performance is a major determinant of how critics and audiences receive a film. This is why casting is so important in the filmmaking process. The right actor will bring the represented character to life and appeal to the audience, the wrong actor will make it impossible for the audience to connect with the represented character.
Even an unlikeable character that is considered an antihero must still be represented perfectly for the audience to pay attention. Good instinct, critical analysis, and impeccable timing are requirements to consider when choosing a role but it is a rare skill combination to find. This makes the process that much more challenging.
How to Cast a Film
The NYC casting directors and acting agencies we got in contact with shared their unique film casting techniques. Below, you find the general breakdown of these techniques and the steps to take when casting a project:
Breakdown the script
Casting directors will break down a script by reading through the screenplay and define the characters for each speaking role. They then compile the descriptions into a breakdown that has all the information on the different roles. This information will include details on the character’s appearance, age range, relevant backstory, and basically anything that can help the actor best assume the role.
Send out the breakdown
Casting directors either send the casting breakdown to talent agencies directly or set up open casting calls for online auditions. If you choose to go the talent agency route, the agency will check their current roster for actors that are likely to fulfill the role as needed and then recommend them to you. Holding open casting calls online requires you to post the breakdown on trusted casting sites or forums for less-popular actors who may fit the description.
Film and movie auditions happen in one of two ways: in-person and on-tape (where talents make recordings of their audition and send them in for consideration). Whatever path you choose to take, you’ll still need to provide them with a short dialogue and actions sample, called sides. Sides make it easier for the casting director to make the decision of either ruling out or shortlisting an actor.
Send a callback
It’s always best to see as many talents as you can see. This helps increase the number of options you have. To see which role fitsa particular actor best, you’ll likely need to call back some actors several times to act out several roles. You also want to make a comparison of their performance against the performances of other potential actors. This increases the chances of making the best possible decision. Callbacks narrow down the search for the right candidate, ultimately leading to a reliable decision.
In a screen test, an actor performs sides and records it on video. The casting team uses these screen tests in movie auditions to analyze makeup, wardrobe, on-screen chemistry between the actors, and the overall performance. The lead roles, should your project have more than one, must connect and work well together. Screen tests make it possible to see how actors perform in front of a camera, verify their presence in the roles, and their connection with colleagues.
Make the selections
The casting company wrangles the talent but the final decisions rest on the producers and directors. They decide which actors are best for them in terms of performance and budget.