Tips for Casting your First Actor

As zero budget filmmakers we find ourselves taking on a lot of roles, one of them being the casting director.

Today we are going to talk about some things YOU can do to advertise your film to talent, and what to look for in an actor. 


Facebook is a good place to start. Ask your friends, ask your family, join filmmaking groups, and let everyone know you are casting your movie.


If you have any filmmaking friends, avoid tagging them all in a single post. Give them a text or a call and personally ask them if they know of any actors who would be suitable for your film. They will be a lot more likely to help you if you go to them directly.


You can use advertisement boards such as Craigslist, Gumtree, and casting websites like StarNow and Mandy. We’ve used these in the past and can work well.

One mistake you can make is not wanting to release the whole script; either because you are afraid someone will steal it, or you will give away spoilers, but try not to worry about this.

Release your script and let the actors read the whole thing. Don’t be precious about it, it’s only a short film, and you never know, that actor who wasn’t too sure about the project might finish the script and beg to be involved.


So now you have interest in your film. You’ve set up some auditions. What do you do now?

There are 2 methods we’ve used for auditions; reading for a character in a scene, and performing a monologue. Both work well and can be used for different types of projects.


If you have a lot of cast members and a lot of actors coming in for auditions, you might want to go with reading for a character. This way you can see a lot of actors doing the same thing and then make your mind up about the ideal person to play that role.

It’s worth filming each audition too. This way you can review them in more detail later.


But if you have very little dialogue in your film, this method might not be the best one to use.

This is where the monologue comes in, and this was our choice when we were casting for The Asylum Groove because the film had very little dialogue.

Some of you might be asking “well why don’t you get them to perform the actions in the script?”.

This is all fair and good, but dancing around with a mop wasn’t the skill we needed for the performance because we WANTED the dancing to be rusty, so this wasn’t all that important. We were looking for the ability to express fine detailed emotions and the ability to take redirection.


Adapting to redirection is one of the most vital skills you should be looking for in an actor and you can use monologues as a way to discover this in an actor during an audition.

Firstly, ask the actor to provide a monologue from a film which they think best mirrors the character in the script. This, initially, has them thinking about the script and how they perceive the story. If they show you that they understand the script, you are a step closer to casting the perfect actor.

During the audition, ask them to perform the monologue they’ve rehearsed. This is a great basis for someone’s acting ability. You can see their emotions, nuances, and range.

Then discuss the character in your film; their motivations, their traits, and their backstory.

With what you’ve discussed in mind, ask the actor to perform the same monologue from the perspective of the character in the script.

Holding the audition this way showed US several vital skills: the challenge of redirection and whether they would be able to change up their monologue, and their ability to think about the character, their traits, and how they would portray them.

If, after some redirection, the actors perform the monologue the same way, this is a sign that they might have rehearsed their monologue to concrete and aren’t able to change and mold to the direction given.


This is a big warning sign to NOT go with this person because if they can’t be redirected in the audition, they might not listen to your direction during the shoot and not give you what you need for the character.

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