Casting The Right Actors


It cannot be overstated how much casting the right actor (or settling for the wrong one) can make or break your film. Casting is an art and like all good art it takes time. Start early and don’t rush the process. Find the best talent you can. Knowing the character thoroughly at the beginning will help you talk to actors intelligently and get them interested in donating their time to your project. Write clear and detailed character breakdowns. Have a plan. Know what “types” you’re looking for and be willing to deviate from your plan when a type you hadn’t considered blows you away with an amazing audition. 


These services are free to students (the actors have to pay to be listed). Read all the information carefully. Fill out the information about your project (locations, dates, format, etc.). Be sure to indicate that your project is “non-union”. 

Backstage offers SFTV students FREE use of their casting services. Visit, click “Post a Job” to add a casting notice, then use the coupon code during checkout. (Contact the Student Production Office for the coupon code.) Check out the “How to Cast” powerpoint containing tips for online casting and rehearsing. Here are a couple of other suggestions from Backstage to get the process started!

  • Requesting self-taped auditions through Backstage keeps your work organized. You can see a tutorial on requesting self-tapes here.
  • Students can also set up virtual auditions using a video chat to meet and read actors. Read more about the system here.
  • Students are setting up Zoom sessions to hold table reads with their cast, which gives them some of the experience of directing actors while they aren’t able to film in person. 
  • If you would like to spotlight or boost your Casting Notice in order to generate more interest or if you have any other questions, email Gerry Maravilla:
323 964 4900
Actors AccessLA Casting
323 525 2358 
Mandy.comNow Casting
818 841 7165 
Breakdown ServicesCasting Networks


The first step is to break down the script and make a list of all the parts that are big enough for “professional” actors. The reality is that a role with one line – or a non- speaking part – aren’t going to be of any interest to actors. 

Write a brief description of each character. In general, short posts attract more submissions that long ones. Write just enough to get the actor interested. Make the role sound as appealing to an actor as possible. 

Have someone you trust proofread the descriptions to see how well you’ve described the role. Check for spelling and grammar so your post reflects on well on you. 

If the role involves nudity you must include that information in the posting. 


Don’t rely on just the photos. Check out the resumes too. A good-looking but inexperienced actor may require a lot of patience and directorial energy. Talent and experience can be more valuable than the perfect height or hair color. 


Prepare a short synopsis of the script and a short description of the character. Know when you are going to shoot, when you want to hold rehearsals and auditions. Know the room number you’re going to use for auditions. Have directions to campus ready. Give them your phone number should something come up. 

When you actually speak to the actor, be prepared for all their questions. Know the character. Be enthusiastic. Be professional. An actor needs to trust the director implicitly. That trust starts with the first contact. 

Be sure to check their availability at this point. (Why audition someone who can’t make the shoot?) If they are interested and available, schedule an audition. Allow at least twenty minutes for each audition. 

Additionally, if you are interested in working with SAG actors, please review SAG’s Signatory Application for student films, and make sure to contact the Production Administration Team with any questions that you may have. 


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