4 Simple Ways to Get the Best Performers for Your Project Every Single Time You Cast

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Photo Source: Unsplash courtesy Kal Visuals

Checking your inbox and finding dozens or even hundreds of submissions for a role you’re casting is exciting, but volume isn’t everything. There could be 500 applicants for a role but only a small percentage who fit what you’re looking for. Ultimately, only one person can get a part, but you want to have your choice of great candidates. So how do you write a notice and breakdown to ensure you’ll not only get a good number of applicants but a good number of great applicants? Well, it can all be done on Backstage and these casting experts have some tips for writing your notices to ensure that they will attract the performers you’re actually looking for. Happy casting!

Let performers know what they can get out of working with you.
Include incentives; tell us a bit about yourself and the project. Did you win an award in film school? Are you inspired by anyone? Can you promise good reel footage for your performers? —Veronika Claghorn, Casting Account Manager

Sell your piece! Make the project and the characters within it appealing to an actor. They want to be challenged and show us what they can do. —Hannah Williams, UK Casting Specialist

Be clear and concise.
Cast a defined net. You may think that seeking as many submissions as possible will widen your pool, but it could work against you and the constraints of the time you have. Know what you’re looking for and narrow it down before you’re inundated with submissions from actors you can never see fitting the role. —Dan Gelb, Casting Editor

Your project and role descriptions should be clear and concise. If you’re flexible on age or ethnicity within the boundaries of the project, you’ll get a bigger response from your breakdown and you’ll have more choices down the line. —Christina Kleppinger, L.A. Casting Specialist

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Be specific while keeping an open mind.
Be specific about what you want, but within a range. For example, maybe you’re seeking an actor in their 30s, I’d suggest setting the age range around 27–42, or similarly. This is two-fold: first, many people who fall in that age range could very well “pass” as in their 30s. Second, it will typically garner the notice more submissions and possibly bring in someone that you may not have thought of otherwise. If the script allows, be open. Sure, have an idea in your head, but be open to someone changing your mind. If having a specific hair color or eye color is not integral to the plot, why limit your submissions? —Elijah Cornell, Casting Account Manager

Select the proper category, so that the actors who are interested and qualified for that type of work will see the notice and apply. It’s also important to be specific in what you are looking for in actors. While some actors may still apply even if they don’t have the required skills, including mandatory skills in the notice is important. If you need someone who can play basketball, include that information. —Melinda Lowenstein, Managing Casting Editor

Be specific on exactly what you are looking for, but also open to interesting and unique ideas. —Lisa Hamill, Casting Editor

Provide performers with the relevant (and necessary) information.
Answer four of five of these basic questions: WHAT are you casting? (a short film, a web series, a commercial, etc.), WHO are you looking for? (extras, production assistants, leading ladies), WHEN and WHERE will you be filming? (“May 25 at Brooklyn Navy Yards” is great, but “this summer in southern California” is good too). —Gillian Heller, Casting Editor

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