WHAT I LEARNED AS AN ACTOR CASTING MY FILM
For a point of reference, here’s the breakdown of the characters:
STACEY (cast: Jennifer Jiles)
TIM (cast: Mark Lobene)
KAITLIN – Female, 6 years old, Stacey and Tim’s daughter, smart and adorable in “The Shining” kind of way. (Must be comfortable with dialogue and being a lead character).
MARISA – Female, mid-late 20’s, the children’s nanny; hot & sexy California girl, sporty and fun, friendly, seemingly unaware of her sexual power. She’s perfect in every way – too perfect. Gynastic skills a plus.
DAWN – Female, early 40’s, brassy, outspoken, best friend and a comic foil for Stacey, earthy and not one to hide her opinions about anything.
VALERIE – Female, 40’s-early 50’s, type-A corporate executive, hard-driving, skilled at breaking balls, noticeable plastic surgery a plus.
NOAH – Male, 12 years old, Stacey and Tim’s son, typical Tween, nose buried in an iPad, but just starting to notice girls in general and the nanny in particular.
TYLER- Male, 2 ½ years old, Stacey and Tim’s son. No dialogue but must like dogs.
MRS BRIJENSKY – Female, teacher, middle-aged, great facial expressions, fed up with Stacey picking up Kaitlin late from after school program (non-speaking role)
Pictured is Lexi Zettle who booked the role of MARISA! I love her!!!!
To find actors, I solicit all my actor friends who may be good for the roles. I email my publicist extraordinaire, Laurie Sheppard. I email my agents and put the casting in the Breakdown Service. I get over 300 submissions for each part, except TYLER, the 2 ½ year old. I get only 3 for him.
Now, I have to tell you, I’ve not put an ad in the Breakdowns before, and here’s what I learned as an actress:
- Don’t ever submit yourself for a part you know you can act, but aren’t the exact type
- Make sure your headshot looks like you
- Always have an online acting reel
How annoying was that to have to sift through so many actors who look at least 10 years younger or older than the role! And I guess to some people, “California Girl” doesn’t mean blonde and beach-ready. (Note to Casting Dir self: If you want “blonde” or “dirty blonde”, ask for it!!!)
Now, I’ve heard this a million times as an actor, but when casting I felt so duped when I clicked on a reel and the actor looked NOTHING like their gorgeous headshots. There was one beautiful blonde who had great shots, and in her reel, she turned profile to reveal a mucho grande schnoz. Nothing wrong with a big nose, but not what I wanted on my California girl!
Thank G the blonde schnoz had a reel, or I’d have wasted a precious audition spot! Furthermore, after that incident, I didn’t even consider any actor without an online reel, even the ones who were submitted and gushed about by their agents or managers. (Unless they looked like a model, of course. If you look like a model, you’ll get called in a lot. A hard pill for me to swallow, too..)