What Casting Actors For a Low-Budget Film is REALLY Like

The cast of  This is Us . Definitely not low-budget filmmaking, but an out-of-the-blue smash hit!

The cast of This is Us. Definitely not low-budget filmmaking, but an out-of-the-blue smash hit!

Hi. I’m Anna. I’m a coach at Studio27 in Tyrone, GA, owner/co-owner of three companies, and a freelance writer and producer - and I have been on both sides of the casting table. There are plenty of articles by casting directors, agents, and managers about what you should be bringing to the audition, and probably plenty more by folks like me, who were actors, yet focus primarily on being behind the camera now.

Doing your research and reading articles like the aforementioned is key to your growth as an actor. So, read on to discover how my experience in casting microbudget films helped broaden my own knowledge as an actor, and gave me one more tool in my acting toolbox!

Your Competition Numbers in the Thousands…

...or, at the very least, in the hundreds. For one role that I cast - a single role - I had to wade through over 600 submissions on LA Casting. SIX. HUNDRED. And I can tell you right now, while the role wasn’t necessarily cast off of headshots, if an actor didn’t send me a good headshot, I more than likely skipped over their profile entirely. Time is money! And once a script is locked, there is generally a timeframe in which you need to cast - and that timeframe is usually ASAP.

One interesting thing I’ve noticed in Atlanta vs. Los Angeles is that more time is spent on casting in Atlanta - the auditions I’ve gotten in Atlanta will often have one-week turnarounds if they’re video-taped (and they often are), or 2 - 3 days before I need to show up at the casting office! In LA, that’s pretty rare - usually, it’s next day. That being said, here’s the main takeaway: get. some good. headshots. Please! Joanna Degeneres in Los Angeles is one of my personal favs, and Studio27 has plenty of info on local headshot photographers - give us a call to find out more!

But You’re Like, Really, Really Attractive…

...and that’s totally great and all, but so are thousands of other actors. In casting, it’s not always about looks or even talent, but it is always about who is right for the role. Part of being “right” for a part does mean that casting directors are looking at your personality - do you act professionally in-person and/or during your self-tape? Are you kind to everyone in the audition room, including the PA and others actors? People don’t want to work with divas, unless you’ve earned that divahood (or have the numbers to back it up).

Another thing: looks are great and all, and can certainly get you some roles, but what I noticed during my time in LA was that having some more unique features makes you more bankable. Model looks are a dime-a-dozen in Los Angeles - it’s the City of Angels, after all - so lean hard into whatever makes you unique, looks-wise.

Seriously, don’t be rude.

I was running an in-person audition one time with an actor that looked perfect for the part. I started off by asking her fairly mundane questions about her day, what she did as a side hustle, etc., and she interrupted me to say, “Can we just get going?” Guess what? Her headshot and resume got thrown out. You will not get ahead in this business by being rude - particularly to someone in a position of authority, whatever that may look like - especially when you’re just starting out! If you’re going to cop an attitude the second you walk into an audition, why are you there?

Casting directors are human beings, too - if you mess up, if you act grumpy, then just apologize for it and explain. I’m not saying make excuses - there’s a difference between an explanation and a defense!

Have you sat behind the casting table and are a professional in the industry? We’d love to hear your insight! Let us know by messaging us below or commenting!



Studio27 is a Tyrone-based acting studio on the outskirts of Atlanta and Peachtree City with nightly classes for all ages, from 5-year-olds to 100+year-olds at all levels. Literally. We’re not kidding. Contact us today for more info on how to nurture or get your acting career started!

Posted on May 12, 2018 .