Finding and Hiring the Talent

1. When hiring acting talent for a video marketing project, what attributes of the talent need to be considered?

- While there are many types of acting showcased in marketing projects, and usually specific to the project itself (say a comedy spot vs a hosting spot) the universal quality throughout them all is the actor's ability to engage with the audience.

Sometimes this is achieved through their performance, whether they charm you with their personality or make you laugh with their wit. Sometimes this is achieved with just an expression on their face, or an exotic look to their features. In addition to engaging, the performance or performer also needs to be relatable and genuine. We dont want to believe anything he or she is doing is forced or manipulative.

Nobody wants to be sold snake oil, the actor wants to make their audience relaxed, understood and excited. Terms like 'aspirational' are thrown around in breakdowns and its the ultimate goal of a commercial spot - the viewer should want to be like the person theyre seeing in the ad, and the actor's confidence, genuine action and personality needs to convey this.

2. What is a casting call? What should it include?

A casting call is a public notice call to actors based on the needs of the commercial production. Think of it as a Want Ad. It relays important information on logistics:


Usage Of the Spot - Is it a National Commercial? Is it a Print ad? Is it an in-house only video?

Location - We so often receive submissions from talent nowhere close to the location, and they want to be flown in!

Union affiliation

Audition Dates

Shoot Dates & Location - Should actors be prepared for a long day, or travel, etc.

Brand Name - Sometimes this is kept confidential, sometimes its necessary information based on conflicting brands, i.e. auditioning for Pepsi when you already have a Coke ad running.

Character breakdown - This is a role by role breakdown of each type you're looking for, the more specific the better. If casting a Mom type, you want to indicate that in the description. For example:

ROLE: Mom Type (We say 'type' to avoid confusion that we need someone with an ACTUAL child)

Female/ (Ethnicity Specified) / Age Range - Stereo-typically 30-40/ And the Description. This should include any important information that needs to be screened with the actor, i.e. someone who loves kids or isn’t allergic to dogs or has a comedic improv background, etc., etc. Usually the more critical information the better, but oftentimes casting descriptions can be overly-descriptive with useless information that has nothing to do with the performance sought. "She loves the color blue" would be baseless information that has nothing to do with their performance. It's much better to be clear and straight forward with information and your needs i.e. "Please wear blue clothing at the audition"

3. Tip for During a Casting

a) What are some tips for directing the acting talent?

In the simplest of terms - as entire books have been written on this - you have to showcase the actor's ability to do the desired performance in the span of around 1-2 minutes. Every actor is different, and you have to be able to read the person quickly and discover the best quality and their flaws and showcase accordingly.

Are they nervous? Calm them down. Are they talking too quickly? Slow them down. Are the choices they made based off the material provided (script, character description etc) not right for this project? Give alternative direction and see if theyre able to adapt. Often times we're not only casting based off the actor's performance, but tailoring it to the tastes of our client (the director, creatives, etc).

b) How do you choose the right talent for your project?

This is a common misconception - we don't ultimately pick who gets to be in a project, we're beholden to the client to choose who they want to represent the brand. Who gets to choose is left to either The Director, the Producer, the Creative Director at the Ad Agency, or Someone from the Brand itself. As Casting Director, we can screen to see who does or does not make it in front of the client for review, and we can provide our suggestions of who we think is the best choice, but we don't get the final say.

Who I suggest as the best option is usually based off a culmination of what I think the best options available to us are. Actor 1 worked the best with the other Actors. Actor 2 had the most genuine performance. Actors 3 & 4 had the best chemistry together on camera.

Finding and Hiring the Talent - Michael Henry

1. When hiring acting talent for a video marketing project, what attributes of the talent need to be considered?

When hiring acting talent I prefer to look for people that I know I'll be able to get along with, enjoy working with, and be able to communicate with easily. Ego can't be getting in the way. I don't care how good someone is at their job, you simply have to be able to work with them and enjoy it. I rarely consider showreels, as they are usually awful. I'd rather just meet the person and get a feel for who they are, their goals, and abilities, in a natural way.

2. What is a casting call? What should it include?

A casting call is a way for production teams to find the on-screen talent for their project, and should include a character specifications, time and location, if being held in the physical world. If you're doing online auditions, then a deadline, contact email, and character specifications are all essential.

3. During a casting

a) What are some tips for directing the acting talent?

I think when working with actors, the key thing to do is to make them feel comfortable. The best actor in the world may have all the experience, technique, ability, under their belt, but if they are made to feel alienated, or talked down to, then they won't perform well when needed. Actors are notoriously insecure, no matter how well they hide it. it's your job to make them feel safe, and none of their ideas should feel stupid. You are collaborators after all.

b) How do you choose the right talent for your project?

The right talent for your project will always be obvious to you. It's a gut feeling. You should know the character/role inside out before arriving at the casting phase, and the right candidate will stand out for you. If they don't, keep looking.