Deandre Moore might be well-practiced in casting remotely for his role at Thrasio, a company that acquires Amazon brands and optimizes their branding and what they have to offer. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t seen opportunities in the newly restrictive guidelines that come with shooting in a pandemic. A remote casting veteran, Moore is eyeing the possibilities that come with voiceover and UGC to add to his to-do list as a content manager who produces Thrasio’s commercials and coordinates shoots. He sees that there are opportunities that come with the restrictions Covid-19 have implemented. While he brainstorms, he’s been booking talent for those commercials and shoots and encourages those who cast to keep an open mind when finding the right person for the job, Moore doesn’t believe in a perfect model because there’s always room for surprise.
What are some of the projects you have recently cast?
In the past few weeks, I’ve produced video projects for several different Amazon brands including URBNFit, UFlex, Veva, Quility and Becky Cameron Home. These brands range from sporting goods to air purifiers to luxury bedding.
Have those projects been able to shoot with the current production delays?
Gratefully, yes! Production has pretty much stayed on track with some minor adjustments.
Has anything changed about your approach to production in these recent months?
Shifting the production environment to adhere to Covid-19 guidelines has been pretty easy. Our team thrives on doing more for less. Guest occupancy on set is kept minimal, social distancing is encouraged, and essentials like masks and hand sanitizer have been enforced. The hardest part has been not being able to give the crew hugs after we slay another shoot.
We have also taken new approaches to some of these projects like having our talented motion graphic artist use older assets to piece together new videos, as well as white background product videos created by contracted production agencies. I also can’t forget to mention the exciting animations and voiceover projects coming down the pipeline!
When casting these projects, what are you looking for in talent?
I’m always looking for versatility and eagerness. I love models who are not afraid to try new things and do the research to deliver on any given project. Some models get too wrapped up in having “the look” and don’t spend enough time actually learning the product. It puts a smile on my face when I know a model has looked into our company and the product before showing up on set.
Have you been able to find the talent that you were hoping to find?
I don’t believe in finding “the perfect model.” There have been plenty of times when I have posted a model casting with a specific look in mind, and then I encounter a model who is completely different and convinces me to go another route. That’s what I love about Backstage. There are so many different people with various looks and opposing walks of life. You never know 100% what kind of talent you will choose until all of your best options are laid out in front of you.
Has your casting process been entirely remote during this time?
Casting has always been 100% remote for my team.
Do you have any tips to share with others doing what you’re doing, especially with possible restrictions?
Utilize technology! Most of the production process can be done remotely successfully. Models can be found on Backstage and social media. Wardrobe and props can be delivered via Amazon, Target pickup, and other online shopping platforms. Shooting locations can be found via sites like Peerspace and Airbnb. Ask the owner if you can have a virtual tour! Pre-production meetings can be held via Zoom and Google Hangouts. I encourage you to do your research and find the best online platforms to push production forward. Let filming be the only need for social gathering and then take the necessary precautions.
“I love models who are not afraid to try new things and do the research to deliver on any given project. Some models get too wrapped up in having “the look”.... It puts a smile on my face when I know a model has looked into our company and the product before showing up on set. ”
What advice do you have for talent as someone who is doing the casting?
Make sure your headshots showcase you as a blank canvas and illustrate your true authentic self. No one likes to be catfished—especially when money is on the line. Let the casting directors see who you really are so they can determine how to best mold you for their project. I recommend every model and actor to have a close-up of themself that is natural and straight-faced, a close-up of themself smiling and joyful, and a full body shot. Those three simple photos would be very beneficial for casting. I often pass on models that seem to be deceiving with their photos.
How has Backstage been helpful through your casting process?
Backstage has truly been a lifesaver when it comes to finding quality talent in a short amount of time. It’s like fishing in a pond that has every fish you could think of. It’s helpful to have a platform that hosts models who do not only focus on looking pretty but also have the experience, skillset, and passion to deliver on your project.
Generally, what opportunities have you found still exist during a time most in-person production is shut down? How have you taken advantage of those opportunities?
Working in a creative field like content production has taught me that there are endless possibilities. I encourage talent to invest in solid home filming equipment because I’ve noticed a spike in at-home video submissions. There has also been a ton of animation and voice work available in comparison to before. I personally have been thinking of the various ways to reach more people through virtual contribution. Before Covid-19, I did a commercial shoot for our Trail Buddy brand. I shipped the products to my chosen influencers and encouraged them to film themselves using the products in a way that felt natural to them. We then pieced together the footage and created the commercial. I’d love to do more projects like that as we practice social distancing!
What should people in the industry know about moving forward at a time like this?
Keep hope and stay busy! Accept that this is our new normal and use your creativity to make exciting content. The quality of your work doesn’t have to change. Simply adjust your strategy. There are so many ways to create exciting content without having to do a full in-person production shoot if you don’t have to. Consider this time as a creative challenge and show your audience why you are a lead creator and decision-maker.