Pros and Cons of Casting Professional Actors for Your Video Marketing Campaign - dummies

Pros and Cons of Casting Professional Actors for Your Video Marketing Campaign

By Kevin Daum, Bettina Hein, Matt Scott, Andreas Goeldi

When you cast a professional actor for your marketing video, you bring in a specialist — an outsider who is providing expert help. Despite knowing nothing about your business or product, a professional actor brings a skill set that allows her to quickly understand a new situation and adopt a character’s point of view. You may even find that the actor sells your business on camera better than you can.

Depending on where you live, you can usually find a pool of local talent. Big cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago are teeming with actors of every size and shape. Places such as Austin, Baltimore, and Seattle have first-rate, smaller acting communities. And most midsize towns have theater communities, with talented actors who occasionally make TV and radio commercials.

A few benefits of casting professional talent include:

  • They have professional work habits: Good actors don’t bring only talent to the table. They show up on time, they know their lines, they seek to understand their characters’ motivations, and they don’t make unreasonable demands. A good actor treats an acting role as a real job and is generally a joy to work with.

  • They can memorize scripts: Actors are often asked, “How do you memorize all those lines?” The answer is usually that they repeat their lines endlessly, or at least until they can virtually say the lines in their sleep. Most actors don’t think twice about the difficulty of memorizing lines — they consider it part of their job.

  • They’re versatile: Professional actors can make small adjustments or huge changes on the fly, giving you a wider array of choices for performances.

  • They have good timing: Nothing can substitute for the ability to hit a dramatic pause or land a punch line — or both in the same sentence. Professional actors can find “beats” in a script and give you unexpected moments that make your scene “sing.”

  • They look good: More than simple beauty, physical attractiveness can obviously be a bonus when casting actors, though attractiveness isn’t always about good looks. Character actors with distinct, unique looks can possess tons of charisma and magnetism that win over audiences.

You can, however, also encounter challenges to working with professionals:

  • Pay: Professional actors are professional, and they should be paid for their services, just as you would pay any other specialist. The notion of the starving artist working purely for art or for her portfolio simply disappears in a commercial project, such as making a marketing video. Be prepared to pay them, typically at a flat rate for a day’s work.

    Less-experienced actors may accept smaller payments in return for the experience and exposure your video gives them.

  • Unions: The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) are the watchdogs of the film, TV, radio, and Internet world. An actor who is a member of either organization may have to be paid by contract. If you aren’t willing to play by union rules, your carefully selected actors may have to walk away from your production.

  • Agencies: New York City and Los Angeles are full of agents handling actors and taking a cut of their pay. But even towns such as Cleveland have special talent agencies that may require a sizeable fee for access to their talent pool. These agencies can find you actors, but you have to pay the price.

Your decision to work with professionals may be simply a financial one. If you have a bigger budget, you can definitely cast from the professional world. If you’re on a tighter budget, you can still look for non-union talent (some great actors are in this category) and get the performance you need.