GOING BIONIC: DISTRIBUTING INDEPENDENT FILMS INTERNATIONALLY – THE ANATOMY OF CASTING, PART 1

Hey filmmakers. Welcome to the 171st edition of Going Bionic. Today we’re going to discuss part one of The Anatomy of Casting.  No, I’m not talking about fishing and so I’m not going to teach you how to cast a fishing rod. I haven’t caught a fish since the late 1980’s, and even then I sucked mightily at it.  Instead, I’m going to give you five quick tips on casting your film.  This handful of strategy is designed to give you the ABC’s of casting in today’s market; a) help you save time, b) help you save money and c) help you get the most head-turning, bad-ass cast your money can buy. So, without further ado, let’s do this!

Understand How Serious Your Casting Decisions Are
While casting your film is an exciting time, because it means your scripted gem is on the way to becoming a celluloid dream, it’s also treacherous and financially dangerous. Whom you cast are the most important decisions you will make on your project, and those decisions will usually make or break your film even before you start lensing. Furthermore, your cast is the very first thing that investors, film buyers and distributors will look at when considering to fund, buy or distribute your film. Just remember, the faces you choose to be in your film, will determine the level of interest your film garners.

Have an Offer Ready Before You Contact The Agent
Once you make contact with an actor’s agent, you must have an offer ready to give their client. In 99.999% of cases, the agents of name value actors, and the actors themselves, will not consider a script unless they know that; a) the film is funded and b) There is an an official offer on the table for them. Thus, if you are not ready to make a hard money offer to the actor, it’s best to wait until you are ready to part with money.

Know Who Else The Agent Represents
The best way to get an agent to play ball with your film is to make their client a big money offer.  The second-best way is to know which other actors the agent represents. This information can be vital to your negotiations, in case a) the actor you want isn’t available or isn’t interested or b) the agent you’re contacting represents more than one actor on your wish list. Remember, there are few things more exciting to an agent than packaging multiple clients into the same funded feature film, so maximizing offers to the agent will maximize your chances of getting a three letter response, i.e. “y-e-s.”

Be Prepared to Show a VOF (Verification Of Funds)
A VOF isn’t just a letter from your investor stating how much they will, or have already invested. Instead, a VOF consists of a recent bank statement filled with ample funds to make your film, and proof that those funds are specifically allotted for your film.  Only then will the agent(s) take your offer seriously.

Know the Difference Between a Quote and Yes Number
Everyone in this industry has a quote, and everyone has a different “real number,” which represents what number they will accept. Thus, it’s your job to find those “real” numbers.

You can first try searching articles on the last films the actor(s) you want starred in, because many articles mention what actors make. But, even those numbers are usually skewed. Secondly, try calling the producers of the last few non-studio films the actor made. While those producers may be unable to discuss how much the actors actually made on their film, they can clearly give you a “range” of how much the actor made. That range is all you’ll need to make an educated offer. Of course, just knowing how much the actor recently made, is not a guarantee they will take the same reduced amount again. However, it is crucial that you locate some real numbers before you make an offer to an actor’s agent, because I assure you the agent’s quote for their client will be substantially greater that what you may be able to wrangle the actor for.

Okay, filmmakers. While this concludes this week’s program, tune in next week for five more things you need to know about casting. In the interim, I wish you a tremendously fruitful week. I thank you once again for lending me your eyes, and I look forward to borrowing them again next Tuesday!

I can be followed on Twitter @Lonelyseal.




Posted on August 6, 2013 in Features, Going Bionic by
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