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Issue #165 – July 4, 2015 (Top 3 Qualities Directors Look for in Casting)

Issue #165 – July 4, 2015
(Top 3 Qualities Directors Look for in Casting)

During the casting process, directors and producers look for a variety of character traits and qualities in every actor. But the most important factors you usually look for are physical characteristics, acting ability and chemistry between other actors.

Because there is never enough time to work with actors in a casting session, along with the added pressure of producers and executives also making casting decisions, here are the top 3 qualities you look for in any actor when they audition:

1) Do they look the part?
2) Can they take direction?
3) Do they have range?

1) Do they look the part?

I call this the “50%” rule. 50% of any role could be cast when an actor enters the room! He (or she) doesn’t have to say anything – they just LOOK like the character (they ARE the character) when they come in! Now you just hope they can act.

‘Looking the part’ is a big plus for short films or TV series since you don’t have a lot of time to build secondary characters. So if an actor looks like the character, that is the first step in making them believable to your audience.

2) Can they take direction?

Experienced actors will make a choice when they enter the casting room. They will have decided who their character is (based on the written scene and the character description) and then give us their interpretation.

But many times this is not the exactly what we had in mind. So what directors do now is give the actor some “direction” by asking for an adjustment.

Smart directors will have the actor read the same scene again but give them an adjustment with a different objective for the second take. This adjustment gives the director a good idea if they can take direction AND if they have range. (You really want to find this out before you arrive on set!)

Changing the actor’s scene objective means you give them a new ‘goal or want’ then have the actor play that objective. And if you do another take, you can either have the actor up the stakes of that objective (go from ‘demand’ to ‘threaten’) or give them a totally new objective change.

3) Do they have range?

This is basically saying, ‘Can they act?’ and a director needs to find this out quickly. Can an actor give you both ends of the spectrum? Can they change the direction believably? Are they believable when they are in a tense, dramatic scene? Are they believable in a comedy?

Remember, finding out if an actor has range is usually discovered after you give the actor a change of scene objective.

Final Note: When it comes to judging an actor’s performance in your film, many Producers and Executives use this rule: If the acting is good – it’s the actors. If the acting is bad – it’s your fault!

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