Casting your Indie Film: Part 2- Three Common Questions in Preparation

tips Oct 16, 2021

So in our last post we discussed your initial list and casting strategy.  Your next step is to prepare to go out to the talent. Please note: in an ideal world you would be working with a casting director at this point, as their connections and reputation will be invaluable. However, many may not have that luxury which is why I am sharing this blog.

Here are the 3 Most Common Questions I get during this process:

1.  Can you pitch several talent at the same time?

  • For different roles?  Yes.
  • Otherwise, be exclusive: Only go out to one actor at a time.  Your goal is to make them feel special, like they are your top choice for the role, even if they are 15th on your list. Agents talk! And... well… that could be embarrassing!
  • On rare occasions (ie when you’re rushed to shoot), you can pitch several directors and simply state:

“this is not an exclusive offer due to our timing”

However, this is only to be done in extreme circumstances.

TIP: Don’t Lie! If they are number 15 on your list, don’t say they are your top choice. Agents do know each other, and they will talk.  Although agents know the game, you still want them to feel special without lying. 

“We believe she would be perfect for the role”

“ We love her work and…”

2.  Who should you Pitch?

Ultimately, it is your preference. However, here my tips:

  •  Manager: I like to go after the manager first.  Even though you called the agent for the avail request, I have found Managers easier to reach and to get a response from.  If there is not a manager listed on IMDBpro, I will go to the agent and if they have a UK agent, I recommend going through them first for the same reason.   This also gives me some room to adjust points of contact should you be pitching several talent who share the same managers or agents.  
  •  All at once:  I know people who believe in cc’ing the manager and all agents on the same email.  The reason is so one doesn’t feel left out and you have twice the chance for an answer...which also means one could immediately kill it before it gets a look. I still usually go with the manager but it is preference.

3.  Who should we cast first?

  • Typically cast your leads first
  • Once you get your first talent, it becomes easier for others who want to join
  • Most A- list talent only want to play the lead unless they are playing supporting to a great ensemble cast, so start with LEADS
  • Don’t attach names just to attach.  Attaching no name or C-list actors in supporting roles in most cases will not help and in some cases, it can hurt (other actors don’t want to work with them or they define the quality of the project since already attached). Have patience. Only actors that get you distribution or funding matter at this stage.

 TIP: On rare occasions you will cast a lead who has fantastic name recognition  but is not enough to pull big Box Office numbers (think: an actor who was hot in the 80s, has since fizzled but is still working). Casting them may attract actors who want to work with said actor, but they will need other names to sell the film. Make sure you have other lead roles you are willing to also cast a name (and have the money in the bank to do so).

Next week, we will cover what materials you should have ready in order to pitch talent.

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Read part 1 HERE.

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