Casting 101: BTS and Tips from Visual Country Casting Days

The Casting Process

Most people don’t know we do castings since so much of our work is still life. But we shoot a lot of live action or stop motion with models, actors and dancers and are always looking for new talent. When a new campaign starring people pops up, depending on client budget we either do a digital casting, where we receive headshots and choose someone without ever meeting them, or we invite about 50-100 people to come in for an in person casting.

The first thing we do to find this group of people is place ads. We put up ads on Backstage, sometimes Model Mayhem (if they want a more fashion look but don’t have an agency budget), and We then hand-pick all invitees. 50-100 sounds like a lot but we get over 500 applicants generally and it’s better to choose in advance who we think we might like.

They arrive during their time slots and are given numbers to correspond to the digital book we’ve compiled of everyone we have ever met for casting (and we mean EVER – we may call someone in our book five years later if we finally have the perfect role for them!). This book contains their headshots, information including their height, tattoos they have, skills, and polaroids that we take the day we meet them. For any given project, we select a bunch of actors and/or dancers from the book and send those options to the client to choose from.

Why Dancers?

Well, for a few reasons. Firstly, we specialize in stop motion, and dancers are really good with micro-movement. Dancers know their bodies really well, and we’re not looking for acting with voice or emotions – it’s all about action and movement for us.

Dancers also tend to be shorter than fashion models and tend to work well in video because the framing is so wide. Plus, dancers generally have great attitude and work ethic, and our company has a bunch of ex-dancers so we can relate.

Tips for Your Image When You Go to Castings

Casting directors want to see the real you – natural with no distractions. Seems simple, but often actors slip in a bit of their personality without realizing. Here are some of the tips to becoming the blank canvas that will land you the gig:

1. Let’s See Some Skin.

Skin is so incredibly important on video, so please let us see what yours really looks like. Go light on foundation (don’t fret about showing your freckles, they may be what we’re looking for, and they’re in style these days anyway!).

2. Lose the lipstick and heavy eyeliner.

If we can’t see what you look like naturally we can’t take you seriously. Makeup transforms the face and the way you wear your makeup may not be the way we want you to look in the commercial/film/performance.

3. Ditch the dangly earrings.

These earrings distract from your face and give us an immediate version of who you are, rather than allowing us to envision you in the role we have for you.

4. Men, Match Your Headshot.

When your headshot is slightly scruffy or clean-shaven but you come in with a full goatee or beard, it can make harder to get a sense of how you look. We’ll be sending your polaroids to clients, so best to come clean-shaven to help convince clients you’re the right fit for a clean cut ad.

5. Sport Solid colors.

Prints convey too much specific personality. A lot of men come in loud patterned shirts and it is not as flattering.

6. Don’t Be Shy, Come Say Hi.

We like it when actors come in and stand pretty close to the table and shake hands to say hello. Not all casting directors like this, but we want to personalize the experience, get a sense of who you are, see your skin up close, and we can see so much more when you come up to us and look us in the eyes to say hello.

7. Gratitude and Goodbye.

Dancers, after castings, often come over and say how much fun they had at the audition and thank us for the opportunity. Not only do we get to see them up close, we get a nice moment to see how they feel when they are engaged.