Cast Away – Casting A Short Film

At FiveSix we do video productions of all types including corporate storytelling, commercial, reality, social media, political, event, documentary and short narrative films.  The last one in that list is fairly new to us and I’d like to chat about how the casting was done in a entirely different manner than our normal process.

For most of our productions in town we use local talent.  There is a good pool of models, actors and actresses in Las Vegas to choose from.  We normally utilize the local agencies and find a group that fit our demographics for each project.  Then, together with our client, we choose the talent that fits the look and feel we’re going for.  We call the finalists in for an audition, all in one day, and then pick the final group.  This happens within a day or two.  It’s a fairly simple process and one that we have become quite efficient in over the years.

Now, when we started casting for the short films, it was different in two main ways.  The first was that the entire production was financed by FiveSix.   We didn’t have the budget to bring in talent agencies and pay the costs that go along with using their services.  A different route was needed.  With a little research we discovered that there are plenty of great resources on-line that give you access to thousands of talented actors and actresses.  Sites such as Backstage and Casting Networks are great communities that help both producers and talent match together on a project.  We ended up posting our projects on backstage.com and having a great pool of talent to choose from.  We were able to advertise our day rate for each role and get only those people willing to work for that rate.  It helped tremendously in budgeting for the films.

The second main difference in casting for the short films was that we searched over the entire country and not just locally.  This brought us a couple of challenges.  We ended up doing many auditions through recorded video and not in person.  One of the best parts about casting live is that you can ask questions and try giving different direction with lines.  You can get a general feeling of how the actor moves with you as you craft a role.  This isn’t so easy with a recorded audition.  We found that we were able to quickly get a feeling about a particular role when auditioning in person but with recorded auditions it took many more views and lengthy discussions within our team.  I would always advocate for in-person auditions but when you’re on a tight budget and quick timeline, that’s not always possible.

Moving forward, due to our ability to find what we were looking for through the on-line talent sites, I think we’ll utilize both local agencies and on-line communities for any future auditions.  On a last note, casting is fun but also difficult for all parties involved as it brings about more rejections than acceptance.  I admire anyone who is willing to put themselves out there like that and audition for a role.  Good luck!