Thursday, 7 March 2013

How To Write The Perfect Casting Call

So you’ve got yourself a script. Or maybe you haven’t. Maybe you’ve just got a vague idea of wanting to put something on. You might just like the idea of making a film or putting something on a stage. Whatever it is you’re up to, it’s likely that unless you’re one of those who only ever puts their friends in things, you’ll be wanting some actors to be part of it too. But how do you got about getting these elusive creatures? Miss L tells you how…

'Currently casting for "Boobs Of The Dead."'

Firstly you need to make sure that you’re pitching the right idea to actors. Whether you’ve got a script or just half a thought, there’s a chance you may need to make a few modifications before you start procuring yourself a few thesps. The most important thing to do is to look at how many women are in this new project of yours. I can’t stress enough how important it is to make sure that they don’t outnumber the men. You may think just because you’ve seen Bridesmaids that you’re allowed to write more roles for women. Well, you’re not. Bridesmaids was made using many Hollywood tricks (mainly mirrors) so unless you’re working with a budget of more than £50 then you’re better off just going down the traditional route and doing away with the women completely. The simplest way is to just change the female roles into male ones. Believe me, actresses just don’t want the work and they’ll understand why you did it. Heck, they’ll probably respect you even more. 

'Must feel comfortable in a bikini on a pogo stick & participating in a sexy food fight.'

However, you might find yourself with a couple of characters who have to be female. Don’t panic. To make this acceptable and to ensure that a handful of actresses still apply, you must need to make sure that the characters are either involved in the sex industry or get their bits out in each scene. Actresses are notorious for refusing to play characters that don’t parade around in their underwear so unless you want an unrealised script on your hands then you’re better off giving the interesting characteristics to the men. Everyone knows men are more interesting anyway so your script will be instantly more believable.

'Due to the director & producer both being broke & a bunch of tight arses, you won’t be paid.'

Now, some people will probably tell you that you should make sure you’ve got a decent budget before you start hiring. Well those people are fools. One of the greatest myths about the world of acting is that performers need to be paid just like everyone else. Actors live off a heady mix of thin air and other people’s rubbish so you really don’t need to be worrying about offering them any money. 

‘This will be an unpaid & voluntary however there is a place that does beautiful falafels around there.’

If you’re one of those with a conscience and not giving anything truly bothers you then I suggest making a flimsy offer of a DVD copy or some food during the shoot. However, you’re best not to offer these things up straightaway. Recent studies have shown that an actor’s performance is improved by 50% if they’re not sure when they’re next going to eat. Their performance will then be further improved by a limp sandwich (slightly warmed prawn or tuna are best) and a wrinkled satsuma.  

'Sorry I can’t pay but I can pick you up and drop you home.'

If you really can’t cope with the idea of not chucking a few pennies at your actors then it is permissible to offer to pay their expenses. However, it’s advisable that you make this as awkward as possible for the actor and scrutinise each receipt in such depth that they soon choose to suck up the cost themselves. Either that or you set an limit on your expenses,  this is very popular among actors and make you seem like a firm but fair director that they will always respect. When setting a limit on expenses, it’s best to keep them as low as possible. £5 should do the trick. This will make your actors feel truly valued and will undoubtedly produce the best performance from them. 

‘MUST have a keen interest in carrots and a wide knowledge regarding their history, origin and taste.’

Now, let’s get to writing the damn thing. You have two choices when creating a casting call. Firstly, you can tell the reader everything. Put in huge chunks of the script, tell them what the character’s favourite colour is, give them a detailed history of everything you’ve ever read. Actors love this, especially if it makes little to no sense. Remember, a casting call may be the only thing they read all day so give them something interesting. They’re not just there to find some work; they’re there to be entertained. Actors have so much time on their hands that they love nothing more than sitting down and spending twenty minutes reading your words.


 But don’t worry if you’re adjectives ain’t your bag. You can also go for the minimalist approach where you give the most scant details possible. Doing this shows the actor that you’re so busy and so committed to your project that you simply don’t have time to waste on some poxy casting call. Also, the true tragedy of the actor is that they are all highly-skilled mind readers but they rarely get the chance to put their skills to their full use. However, by including as little detail as possible in your casting call, you allow actors to show off this rarely used talent. 


So, now you’ve written your casting call… hang on, what the heck are you doing? Step away from the spellchecker. That rubbish is for people who don’t have faith in their project, it’s for people who have time to burn. If you want people to realise just what a big shot you are then you leave any spelling mistakes you might have made. Looking like you don’t really care about your project makes you look dangerous and interesting, a combination that’s absolutely irresistible to actors.

'Please note that the frog does not need contemporary dance skills.'

And what of those little extras to make your casting call just that bit extra special? Well, an insider tip is to include the type of camera you’ll be using. If you don’t mention this, actors will presume that you’re recording the whole thing on a bit of slate and they’ll probably end up blacklisting you. Another great tip is to creep actors out. A shiver up the spine and a crawl of the skin is what makes an actor feel alive so do your worst and watch those applications come flooding in. The notorious Creepy McCreeperson used this line, ‘I’m seeking an impersonator who can perform as my mum when me & my mum cannot meet up’ which I’m sure you’ll all agree is guaranteed to get actors interested. 

So there you have it. How to write the perfect casting. Next time: How To Feed Your Actors In The Most Disappointing Way Possible…


  1. saw this on a casting site today:

    Although the role is unpaid all expenses will be covered. This should be a fun shoot for all, and more like a party than work.

    1. A party you say? Well, In that case i'm going to be wasted on set & have sex with the wardrobe mistress on the make up table. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have work/partying to do...

  2. Genius, sheer genius! I'm googling all of the above jobs and salivating at the thought of being able to apply.......

  3. Brilliant. I think you've nailed it.