The casting process is expensive, time-consuming and difficult–until now. Hester Schell’s Casting Revealed: A Guide for Independent Directors and Filmmakers (Michael Weise Productions, 159 pages, $20.95,) shares helpful hints about all aspects of the production world and makes it cheap, quick, and easy. To say this book has a tidal wave of information would be an understatement, as it covers everything from headshots and handling rejection, to the perks of union wages and how to do things yourself.
The first chapter of the book is titled: “Save Money–Do It Yourself.” It serves as a tutorial not only for aspiring directors, screenwriters and actors, but also for seasoned veterans looking to go about things in a new light, while saving money. Schell notes that, “According to Amy Lemisch, director of the California Film Commission: ‘California’s world share of studio films (i.e., those made b the six biggest studios) stopped from 66% in 2003 to 35% in 2008.’” In short, this means that indie films are becoming more prevalent than ever and the industry is not the six-headed monster it once was. Now is the time to shine for those who feel they’ve got what it takes.
One of the most important aspects of Casting Revealed is the idea of standards, and making sure they’re synonymous with the ambition associated with any particular project. Schell says that “anyone can make a movie,” which is true. What most people fail to recognize are the simple factors that can take you out of the running before the race even begins. Demanding professionalism with better quality cameras, avoiding reshoots and being surrounded with people who “know more than you do” is crucial in taking an idea from the script to the screen, and all the steps in between.
In particular, Schell goes on to describe the three reasons why low-budget films fail to get into festivals, which are: weaknesses in story, acting or production quality. Further, Schell notes, “Film festival juries are keen to high production value. When juries screen films for festivals they watch about the first 15 minutes. If anything appears off about production value, such as muffled dialogue, sloppy edits, poor continuity, the committee will hit the stop button and move on to the next screen.”
On top of learning how to be frugal, towns with rich theater communities are a starting point for directors looking to hire actors. These towns include San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, Chicago and New York City. More daring places to look for talent, especially comedic talent, is at comedy clubs and improvisational theaters. In many cases, a hilarious person can very well have no idea what he/she is destined for until agents, managers and producers snag them away from low-paying late nights to the big screen.
Without completely giving away all the priceless information inside Casting Revealed, I highly recommend Hester Schell’s book. Callbacks, headshots, interviews, resumes, reels, roles, script analysis, character types and press releases are all discussed at length. It is a quick read and jammed with facts about the moviemaking world. Expect an informative lesson on the rules of the game, with strict outlines from every phase of production. Whip out your pens and highlighters and start jotting down notes, because this will surely be on the desks of up-and-coming writers, actors and directors for years to come.