Attaching the right talent to your movie can be the difference between long term success or failure. And for a filmmaker gaining experience, this process can be daunting. Back when I started out, I had no idea how to find a casting director or what to say to them. But it is important to remember that many industry professionals will take on smaller jobs in-between bigger projects.
In this week’s guest filmmaking article, producer Erik Jacobson shares ideas on how to find a casting director and hire actors for your movie project.
Hire Actors and Attach Talent
One of the best ways to attract investors to your film project is to attach talent to it. If all you have is a script, you’re at the back of the line. But attaching talent gives you a definite advantage over the script-only guys. Why? Because when investors see that a recognizable “somebody,” whether they be a director, actor, exec producer or whatever – when they see these Hollywood names like your script enough to attach themselves to your project it makes them think, “Hey, this must be a decent project. I’d better check it out.”
Where do you start? First, you need a really good script. Something that’s commercial. Something that will stand up to the competition. Unless you’ve rewritten it many, many times and gotten lots of feedback. And I am not talking about your Mom or Aunt Sally – Don’t bother showing it to talent. I have rewritten my screenplay at least 50 times.
From there, make sure you put together a logline that creates some interest. Here’s mine: “Jon Parker is in trouble, big-time! The DMV gave him a to-die-for summer job, thinking he was an adult. But Jon’s only seventeen! And with friends, enemies, and hotties coming in for their licenses, how will he keep his secret, his job, and his girlfriend?”
What I did next was do some research on Casting Directors who’ve been involved with small microbudget films like mine. IMDBpro will tell you this. When I finally found one that looked like a possibility, I called them up. The head guy said “I don’t personally do casting on unfunded projects, but I have an Associate who does do that.”
So I met with the Associate, offered her $2500 up front to help me attach some talent, plus $2500 on the first day of principal photography once the film was funded. She agreed and promptly sent the script out. The feedback from talent agencies was amazing! They loved the script and gave me my pick of a number of actors, including some hot, up-and-coming teens. For the adult roles, I attached Sean Young, Fred Willard, Robert Davi and others.
Since then, I have also put together a business plan and budget and am now getting some real interest from production companies. Nothing is final yet, but I’m optimistic I will find funding and go into production sometime this year.
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Erik Jacobson has taken film and screenwriting classes at both USC and UCLA but found the best way to learn was making small films on his own. So far he has produced ten small, microbudget, below-the-radar films targeted at the family and faith-based markets. All have been very profitable and have grossed a combined $4 million.