How Digital Tools Are Permanently Changing Casting + Production

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The pandemic has certainly posed challenges to performers looking for work, and for those making content, but that doesn’t mean production has halted entirely. With in-person auditions a thing of the past and future, producers and casting directors have turned to their computers to find the right person for the job in the present.

Backstage and Digiday have been exploring the burgeoning frontier of digital auditioning and casting. Of course, for today’s working actor, the self-tape is nothing new—the industry has been taking advantage of taped auditions for some time now, but with the pandemic, creators and brand marketers in particular, have been forced to develop new ways to safely and quickly find and connect with the right talent for projects. After all, business doesn’t stop and neither can promoting their products or services.

“With the increase in demand for content and the speed of creative iteration required to power campaigns, we’ve seen the need for these tools emerge prior to the pandemic,” says Josh Ellstein, CEO of Backstage. “The pandemic has only accelerated adoption, and we expect it will continue.”

In other words, these digital skills are likely ones that performers have been honing on their own; skills that are becoming increasingly important as producers and casting directors alike have increased their activity in this digital realm. 

As noted in Digiday, 80% of all casting notices recently run on Backstage are looking to cast remotely, with most seeking “user-generated content (UGC) creators who were proficient on both sides of the camera—a necessity in a landscape where remote content has been instrumental to scaling marketing campaigns across all channels and platforms.” 

And it’s not just the casting process; all aspects of production have moved into a newly remote space, and though these changes have brought on new challenges, the advent of new technologies has streamlined the process, and has allowed producers to consider far more vast and diverse talent pool than ever before.

So what does this mean for actors and creators working today and looking towards a post-pandemic future? It’s best to embrace the technology as just another example in the history of industry sea changes. Both sides of a production have more leverage in this new digital space with remote casting and production. This can lead to more jobs on projects that had previously been out of reach because of time or geographical limitations.

Rest assured, it’s not likely that when things return to normal, in-person casting will be gone entirely. But, now that creators know what’s possible remotely, digital casting is here to stay.

“It may not be as personal, but it’s definitely more convenient,” said Menashe, founder of the creative agency Nue.Digital. “Everyone wants the information right away as soon as possible in the best quality. The practicality is very important.”

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