How to Create an Effective Casting Notice for Your Marketing Video

When it’s time to search for actors for your marketing video, your best bet is hold auditions by way of a casting call — an invitation for actors to audition for your project.

In actor-heavy towns such as New York City and Los Angeles, you can advertise the call online at Backstage, the biggest acting industry trade publication. You can also post on numerous websites where actors pay a subscription fee to view casting calls.

One of your best bets is craigslist, which features its own casting section, where you can post for around $25 per notice.

Wherever you advertise your casting call, craft an informational casting notice, which is your chance to let the world know about your production and the specifics of your casting needs. Because it’s also the first point of contact between your production and your prospective actors, try to make a good impression. Treat it no differently from any other job posting — make your casting call professional, informative, and succinct.

Your casting notice should contain, at minimum, these elements:

  • Project title and the type of video you’re casting: Identify your video as an external video, industry event video (for a trade show, for example), or internal video for company use.

  • Union membership status: Specify whether you’re looking for union or non-union actors or whether you’re open to either.

  • Shooting dates and location: Before you start casting actors, you should have an accurate estimate of when and where you’ll shoot.

  • Breakdown of roles: You must specify what types you’re looking for, such as age range, gender, or race (if necessary for the character). A short description is helpful.

    Be specific about necessary skills, such as singing, dancing, or speaking a specific language.

  • Payment amounts and other details: You don’t have to state a number — just mention whether the roles are paid. (If you get involved with unions, you have to deal with pay scales.) Also mention whether food, transportation, and a copy of the video are part of the deal. All these details make your project look more attractive to your potential cast.

  • Submittal guidelines: Request head shots and résumés, and include your e-mail address (you may want to create a separate e-mail address, to save your inbox from the potential clutter). You can also ask for a link to a demo reel, if it exists. Some actors have their video highlights posted to YouTube or Vimeo, and you can get an idea of how they look and sound, as well as see their acting abilities.

A proper casting notice reads like this:

Busy Bee, Inc., seeks cast for short Internet video. Non-union only. Shooting February 2-4 in NYC. Seeking — Dave, male, 40-60, CEO of large corporation; Amy, female, 20s, young go-getter; maitre d’, any age or gender, snooty restaurant host, French accent required. Pay, food, transportation, and DVD copy included. Send head shot, résumé, and demo reel link to Casting@BusyBee.com.

During the submission process, separate truly professional actors from those who are less serious and likely unreliable. An actor without a professional-looking head shot and résumé should be taken off your list. These items, which are considered industry-standard calling cards, should include or describe an actor’s

  • Contact information

  • Physical statistics (height, weight, hair, and eye color, for example)

  • Film, TV, theater, and voiceover experience

  • Formal training experience

  • Special skills, such as singing, dancing, language accents, martial arts, gymnastics, or ninja moves

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