Many are familiar with the traditional casting call. You set up a time, send out the sides, and actors come in one by one and read for a part. This is normally a long process, and it takes a lot of work to weed through your choices to find the perfect actor for a role. Thanks to technology, this is the old way of doing things, at least according to Bret Easton Ellis (writer of American Psycho) and the producers for his new film The Canyons (directed by Paul Shrader). They've already run a successful Kickstarter campaign, and now they're trying to utilize technology in a completely new way, by making the casting call a social affair.
Here's a bit from an IndieWire post explaining the situation:
...casting is taking place on the mobile app and social media website Mobli. Mobli describes themselves as "a mult-platform photo and video sharing community that brings people together around common interests. For the role of Caitlin, a beautiful and shallow Los Angeles socialite, aspiring actresses from around the country are using their phones and webcams to post audition readings to Mobli's "Canyons" channel.
I'm not sure if using Mobli and making casting calls public is a good idea in the long run, but there's no doubt that it's going to create some interesting dynamics between actors vying for roles. It's often you can't see how well the competition did during their audition -- but in this case you can see how everyone did, and what they might be doing differently than you. Acting is already competitive (so I've heard), and putting everything out there for the world to see might make it even more difficult, especially if your audition isn't that great -- because even though the producers of this film might be professional enough to understand that one audition does not reflect an actor's entire body of work, others on the web might see a not-so-great audition for a different film and not consider you for theirs.
We'll see how successful the experiment is, but the key thing we should take away is we live in a fantastic time period where we can utilize technology to make the casting process more real-time. You can tell that many actors are not right for a part the second they walk in the door, but the interesting thing about utilizing a social platform like Mobli is that you may get more actors reading for the part than you ever would have with a traditional casting call. Many actors do multiple auditions per day, and if they can send you an audition online instead, there's a much better chance they will consider doing one for your film.
So what do you guys think? What other ways can we utilize technology to make the audition process better?
Link: Mobli & The Canyons - Mobli Auditions
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So it's like skype. People are already doing this.
July 4, 2012 at 12:18PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
It's nothing like Skype - none of them are live. It's more like YouTube, but even that isn't a good description because of the way it is self-contained.
July 4, 2012 at 12:24PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Skype's fine, as a start, but something like this... SAG won't like it one bit, and rightfully so- the privacy issues are massive. Of course, in the true indie spirit you can always say "fuck SAG".
But as a director, so much of what we do in casting is test chemistry and the actors' ability to take direction. What this looks like is what you can already get on the various casting services- canned video clips. To me, that's almost useless.
July 5, 2012 at 9:45AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
exposure, exposure, exposure. I checked out the link and well guess what, while some of the castings are better than others it doesn't mean the rest weren't noticed. I'm not even talking specifically for The Canyon's role of Caitlin. If you are trying to get discovered or you want to learn off other actors this is the PERFECT accessible platform in my opinion. Good on you mobli for breaking the mold. I hope you continue to cast on the app.
By the way, I found this as well on the site. TropfestMicro: This is a mini film festival in your pocket that ANYONE can take part in. Looks like Tobey Maguire is involved http://www.mobli.com/tropfestnyc and http://www.mobli.com/channel/show/id/544377
July 4, 2012 at 12:35PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
This sounds pretty useful, but there are also several downsides I see with Mobli:
-You're not going to reach everyone, so some great talent might be lost to the technology gap. Not all actors know how to use a computer (well). You'd still need to run in-person casting sessions for this demographic, especially if you're casting for elderly roles.
-Some people might be great talking and auditioning to a webcam, but then getting them in front of lights, a crew, etc. on set might produce something entirely different.
-Bouncing off of James' idea that other actors can learn off the successful auditions: this could create a lot of copycats. Just because Girl A gets the role for "Caitlin" doesn't necessarily mean Girl B was terrible - she just didn't fit the part and her style may work out for another film, and thus shouldn't always model herself after those that win out. (The opportunity to learn from the successful ones, though, is still a great Pro, it's just up to the actor/actress to not conform to another style.)
July 4, 2012 at 8:31PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
This seems ill-advised to me. It's a bit like having writers pitch for studio assignments on YouTube. There's a privacy component to the audition which is important for actors, who make risky choices that could either fall flat or win them the part, and feel free to do so because they trust it won't be made public.
This is more like the first round of American Idol.
July 4, 2012 at 10:05PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Exactly! A good actor goes in (not literally) naked and raw, and gives something special of themselves, and puts themselves in our hands. The best actors are like racehorses, and you must treat them with respect and nurture them, not abuse them, and splash them all over the web for their fellow actors and the public to rip apart.
Casting, done right, is both exhilarating and exhausting.
This idea, to me, feels more like a gimmick (and appears to have been used as such by the producers of this film).
July 5, 2012 at 9:50AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
We kept hearing that the web to submit headshots, or demo reels, or that even 3d will totally replace actors and even locations was the future. That future has come and gone. For indie projects, you might find something, but crowdsourcing and not getting an actual interaction with actors is not going to help unless all you cast for are monologues.
July 5, 2012 at 12:46PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
As actors we frequently submit ourselves electronically. Still, a director wants to meet [principle] actors before working with them, and asses whether or not an actor can/will take direction as might be required by the story.
July 7, 2012 at 7:29PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
That should have been assess, not asses. Made an ass of myself with the typo!
July 7, 2012 at 7:30PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Public auditions are a terrible idea. I believe that footage deserves to fully be in the hands of the filmmakers (and actors) only... It's not meant to be public.
There are some great actors that might look awful when miscast. It does a disservice to their body of work for the public to see this.
Also, great actors can have bad auditions.
Some actors take a long time to get into the character...so a cold read, based on one scene (as opposed to having read the whole script) might not inform them enough to make good choices.
Initial rounds of casting online is great...it saves the filmmaker and actors time and money...but making it public doesn't seem right to me.
I think of the skateboard scene. A local kid can skate his local park all day long, wiring every line, getting it perfect...and the a visiting pro can visit the park once, maybe not pull off every line, getting it worked out, learning where the kinks are...etc...and then this local kid goes out and does this video (where he ties a trick 50 times before landing it once), and then that kid and the local kids go around bragging that they're better than the pros and have the footage to show it. The same mentality would get started with actors if they start opening "competing" with other actors. I agree with Jeremy Dylan in that it's like American Idol. It's pointlessly competitive (and would make notoriously insecure and image conscious actors even more so).
It offers nothing of benefit for the filmmakers or the actors that I can see...unless you're doing some stupid reality show, So Who Wants To Be a Movie Star? or whatever...
July 8, 2012 at 3:32PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM