When you think about your favorite sitcoms, you might think about how funny Jennifer Aniston was as Rachel Green on Friends, or how Jason Alexander awkwardly made you laugh as George Costanza on Seinfeld. But do you ever think about Larry Charles when you think about Seinfeld? Larry was one of the original writers for the first five seasons. He came up with all the funny content that your favorite actors hilariously verbalized. Equally as important in making these shows and movies a hit, in addition to the brilliant writing, is the casting. Ellie Kanner was the casting director of Friends. During the pilot casting, Vince Vaughn auditioned for the role of Joey. Kanner remembered him as “handsome and tall -a good actor” but in the end, she used her foresight and went with a no-name, Matt LeBlanc and created the perfect group of “Friends.”
If you are booking or casting at the level of success that Kanner is/was then most likely you already know these tips and the importance of the job in any production. But for you that are new to the world of finding talent, the following tips should be helpful.
Tip #1. Know Your Budget
Would I have loved for Gisele Bndchen to be in my first shoot? Yes of course. Would it have been nice to have Brad Pitt in my first video? Absolutely. Unfortunately, Gisele’s day rate is right under $50,000 and Brad Pitt is an easy $10,000,000 per film. Know your budget and get the best of what you can afford. The Client will have a champagne eye and offer a domestic beer budget. Be transparent with the client on what they can afford.
Tip #2. Give Yourself Ample Time
Auditioning is another list in itself, but for the case of summing up casting and booking, give yourself time to go through model’s books and give yourself and the talent at least 20 minutes of audition time. Rushing your decisions with talent is never a good decision. Take your time, find the right person for the position; You will thank yourself.
Tip #3. Have a Backup
Having an A and B choice for each part is vital. It’s never fun to reject the Backup, but you never know when A is going to back out. Make sure to ask your Backup if you can count on them next time. Lift their spirit -you never know if you are going to need them tomorrow. Always have a plan B for everything, especially for talent.
Tip #4. Confirm Booking with a Call
Your list of A’s and B’s should be “on hold” with the agencies. When you finalize you’re A’s, confirm the booking/casting with a call. Your talent deserves a call and they will be excited to hear what you have to say. Side note: find out what the agency’s policy on holds are -hold those B’s until production day if possible.
Tip #5. Sign the Release Form
Lastly, after you offer the position and the talent agrees, send over the release form immediately to either the agent or the talent. Have that signed document in hand before production day. Get it out of the way -you will have too much going on during production to remember the release form. Don't get in a sticky situation because you forgot the form. Keep in mind, that the agency might have their own form. If that is the case, have them send it over immediately for you or your legal to review.
Casting and Booking is a blast. Seeing each talent and what they have to offer is going to expand how you see each part and where the rest of the shoot/film is going to go. Have fun with it and don’t forget to take your time. Happy Casting!