Wednesday, 29 July 2015

How Do You Cast a Movie?

Frank Gladstone directs voice actors in a Soho sound booth
How do you cast a movie? The question is as relevant for animators as it is for live-action film-makers. If you are hoping to get your animated film project to the big screen, then at some point you need to think about casting.

At a recent event at BAFTA in London, part of the BAFTA Guru series of lectures, a panel of industry experts discussed how, exactly, film-makers can go about casting their film.

BAFTA Guru - educating film-makers

The panel included casting director Des Hamilton, director Tom Harper and actress Phoebe Fox, who trained at RADA. The event was chaired by Edward Hicks – Head of Film TV & Radio at RADA.

Casting is a tricky issue for film-makers. Of course, director needs to cast great actors, performers who are just right for the role.  But, in the world of independent film, you also need to find "marquee" or "A List" talent to help sell your film.  Investors like big stars, and if you can get one to agree to do a voice, this can make a big difference in raising finance for your film.
Pheobe Fox. Photo:
Wikimedia Commons

Phoebe Fox was asked what actors are looking for in a project. Of course, a great script is vital, but for an actor "you gotta have a great scene that you really want to be in. If it doesn’t have that then – you’re f*cked".

She also suggested that it was important to "ask her opinion on the character – what does she think?" A good director should be "open to new ideas". That said, she "wants to be directed". Indecision is not welcome from directors. "Tell me what you want", she said. After all, properly trained actors "have range".

Des Hamilton suggested that the highest profile actors often have US agent, and this can make things complicated. Directors and producers on a project can wait a long time waiting for someone to say yes or no, and you can't wait forever. That said, putting pressure on leading talent may backfire. After all, “you can speed up a no much faster than you can speed up a yes”.

Royal Academy of Dramatic Art on Gower St, London.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
But nonetheless, film-makers should aim high - since "higher level casting directors have more clout – people are frightened of them".  In the end, you have to "go with your instinct. If you’re thinking this isn’t going to happen – then you’re probably right".

It is, he said, "very hard to get A list talent. You’re better off shooting a great teaser/trailer and show them [investors and sales agents] how great the film is gonna be. There are only a small number of actors who can get films made and they tend to be very busy".

Tom Hicks agreed:  "Aim high, but then move on if it doesn’t work out". He also suggested that if you need young talent, "go and find actors in the bar at RADA". Watch the annual shows there, and look for the rising talent. Then go and find them and make them an offer.

Once you've signed your talent, of course, you have to great a great performance out of them. To see our guide on directing voice actors for film and TV, follow this link.

To find out more about Animation Apprentice, click here for a link to Frequently Asked Questions. To sign up for our next classroom at Animation Apprentice, follow this link. For more information on finding work and surviving in the animation and visual effects business, read our post on how to find a job in the animation industry, and check out our post about what not to do at a job interview. Also see our post on starting your own small animation business, learn how to create an invoice, and see how we arehelping our students find work through our film co-operative Nano Films. Download the free Escape Studios Careers in VFX Handbook. Take a look at how can help you find a job, and read our piece about how to survive as a freelance animator. Also, find out what Cinesite look for in a student's demo reel, and read our post on setting up your own animation business. Also see our post about freelancers and taxes.

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