The process of casting talent is a lot more complicated than it seems. It’s not just about finding the right person for the part, but also about figuring out who will work well with others. In fact, some people are hired based on their personality and how they interact with other cast members.

Many actors have agents that specialise in casting talent because of the complex nature of this process. The agent usually has a team of researchers to help them find out what type of person would be the right match best suited for specific roles and projects.

What does casting talent mean? 

Casting talent in its simplest sense is a visual interview. A casting call is when people want to find actors to play a part in a movie, TV show,TV ad or media projects. You can see it as like an audition. You can either have open or closed (by request) casting calls.

Open casting calls

Open casting is when you tell modelling, talent, or actor agencies (or have a job posting with casting details on casting service The Right Fit) to send any available talents to an audition. This can be a long process and you’re likely to be seeing a lot of people that don’t fit the brief exactly.

Closed casting calls

A closed or request casting is one where you are selecting talents by shortlisting, and narrowing the actors down to a smaller list (usually the top 3-4 candidates per role) and casting them to ensure they look like their digis (unedited digital headshots or photos of their features) in real life and then selecting the successful candidate. This is usually by appointment only, so hopefuls can not expect to just show up at the location.

So, to ensure the right actors, performers, or models get the job whether it’s an open or closed casting, you want to make sure you have the right casting brief. 

Casting talent is as easy as 123

What should you include in a casting or audition brief? 

An ad for an audition will usually specify what kind of people the creators want people to audition for. It’s usually posted on a website, showcased at the venue, or sent as an invite to particular talents in advance. When creating the brief, make sure you have these details:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity,
  • What the role would involve:
  • Specific skills
  • Specific accents
  • Vital stats such as:
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Dress size
  • Eye colour
  • Hair colour
  • Specific requirements (body hair, tattoos etc.) and
  • Characterisation of the role for the talent i.e. “a 20-year-old technology-loving funky woman who looks like she lives in Newtown”.

Pay attention to requirements involving genders, ethnicities, and other similar criteria because when neglected, some of these can turn into casting diversity issues that can negatively impact the clients and the community they’re supposed to represent.

Also when it comes to the talent, ensure you are across these aspects as well: 

  • Certain legal mandatories like for alcohol brands, all talent booked must be over 25 years old,
  • Whether they have worked with any competing brands, and 
  • Whether they have any advertisements (TV adverts, etc.) on air at the moment.

How to hold a casting call

Once you have the perfect casting brief, it’s time to hold the casting session. It is usually done face-to-face via casting directors, but nowadays talents can just create and submit a self casting tape or showcase their reel online. Some casting directors can even give an actor or models jobs via a simple Zoom call within a day! The option you choose really depends on your requirements such as time sensitivity, assessment of skills, and other factors.

Before the casting process, make sure you have the applicant’s resume containing personal details such as their name, email, and contact details. Keep their profile on file even if they don’t end up winning the job, because who knows, they might be a good fit and you might be keen for them to apply or submit a casting tape for the next role.

For talents who land auditions for face-to-face castings, here are some tips:

  • You can ask the talent to try on the clothing they will likely be wearing for the shoot, i.e., if it’s an e-commerce job, get them to try on the sample sizes.
  • You can film them enacting the scene they will be acting in the final TV ad by providing them with a script beforehand.
  • You can see how the talent moves in front of the camera by taking their photos or by taking videos.
  • Ensure the talent is available for the shoot dates, fits within the budget and has not worked with any competing brands (if applicable). If you’re shooting New York City for a month, make sure the talent will be allowed to travel in this location without any issues.
  • A face to face casting is a great option to check the model’s skin, nails, hair and teeth if needed for close up beauty shots.

For those into creating self casting tapes, here’s a guide:

Detail exactly what you or the client would like the talent to do within the self casting tape. If possible, send an example video clearly showcasing exactly what you need the talent to do.

A self-test casting usually follows the structure of:

  1. An introduction (name, age, measurements, what role they are casting for, whether they are available for the shoot and whether they have shot for any competitors or have any ads on air at the moment).
  2. Acting out the scene or performing the skills required for the shoot.
  3. Various angles of them (side, front, back and walking towards camera).
  4. Again, any close-ups required like close-ups of their hands, or a tight shot of the talent smiling

Some technology notes that you can pass onto the talent for self casting tapes: 

  • Camera setup: Landscape format is always preferred. Shoot horizontally. 
  • Sound: Reduce background noise and don’t shoot where your voice would echo.
  • Lighting: Ensure you have bright lighting and that you can be seen clearly in the self casting tape. Minimise shadows.
  • Clothing and background: Use neutral backdrops free of clutter and wear solid coloured clothing (white/black) that does not hide how you look.
  • Recording: Place yourself in the centre of the frame and look at the camera while filming.  
Casting talent via in-person auditions

Casting directors and talent agents

Many casting directors work with talent agents to help find actors or models who are the best fit for a role. Casting directors often have decades of experience in their field and will often have relationships with other agents, which can be extremely useful when it comes to getting certain parts.

Many talents however have come up with clever ways of getting around these middlemen to stop being tied up to certain roles or to avoid getting paid a lesser rate because of the fees or cuts an agent would take for successfully landing the job.

An online casting service that works for both clients and talents

Talents can sign up or create an account on sites like theright.fit platform and gain membership to a portal that will open them to thousands of opportunities in every category imaginable. You can post your open casting call where people can apply and present their video submissions. They can send casting videos up to 5MB directly in the inbuilt chat on theright.fit, or if the file is larger than this, they can upload to Vimeo or YouTube and share the link with you directly in the chat.

Finding the right fit (see what I did there?) for casting talent is imperative to the success of your photoshoot or TV commercial. Casting is an important step in ensuring you book and manage the right person for the role.

Now that you’re set up for success, we cant wait to see who you cast for your next project!