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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Casting Brief - Q4: Dates for shoot and shortlist?

For the entire List of questions go back to
Casting Brief

Question 4: Dates for shoot and shortlist?

This question is asked, so that when the casting director calls the actors for auditions, besides the other information, they are told the shoot dates as well so that in case the actor is already booked on those dates they can avoid going for the audition. This is more important in advertising than in feature films, in the case of the latter, the dates would mostly be a range of withen a "X time" like a week or between months X - Y since till all the cast and all the other details are not in place the film would not be going on the floor. The only time dates are clear is when all the main cast, and other departments are blocked and only a few people are left to cast. Also this would be the case when call backs have happened and casting is in 2nd or 3rd round of tests. (number of tests to finalize cast would vary, as it would be finalised only when the Director and all others concerned are satisfied.

In the case of advertising almost 99% of the time the date for the shoot would be fixed and even if there is a doubt, there would be a very tiny range between which the shoot would occur, like between day X or X(+/-1), X(+/-2). That could also be the case because it could be a 3 day shoot and the actor would not be required on all 3 days. So the actor needs to be clear that by giving the audition they are committing to be available on that dates that have been told.

How is shortlisting done?

Now what happens if the actor has auditioned for multiple roles for different production houses of which shoot could be on the same dates, thats where the shortlist date comes into play.

In advertising the first shortlist (especially if there are a lot of cast to go through) is done between the casting director, D.A, Asst director and the producer (not necessary all would be present) there are however some directors who do go through the entire list of people that have been auditioned. In most of the cases the first viewing is just a short glance at each video, here is where what you wear and your look will come into play, so while the the director watches the video the assistant sits with the list of names of the actors that have auditioned and makes a shortlist.  Here only the really terrible actors and the ones that really dont suit the role are removed, like a 35 year old actor who has auditioned for a 18 year old. The director also glances at the first round of auditions (at the end of each casting day) when there is more than one day for casting, so that he can point out mistakes (if any) or tell the casting director to concentrate more in finding a particular character. In the second round of shortlist (which is when all directors view the cast) the audition is watched in detail and a short list is made, the marking on each actors name would be YES, KEEP FOR NOW, NO & MAYBE, basis on this a re look at all cast is done which is the 3rd round, here the assistant has to line up all the cast basis each character and a new shortlist is further made. In the final round of shortlisting (which could be the 3rd one) the cast is then given preferences like a particular actor would be the Directors 1st choice followed by the 2nd choice and the rest are usually a backup in case the client does not like the first 2 characters presented. Usually 2 to a max of 5 people per character are presented at the PPM. There are times when shortlisting or one round of presentation is also done with the agency present so that the director and the creative are on the same page so as to which actor is their preference for each part.

So when a production house informs the actor that they are shortlisted it means that the actor is being presented at the PPM, So what happens if the actor has been shortlisted in another job on the same shoot dates, they need to mention this at the audition or more importantly when the shortlist call is made to them, so that a reconfirmation call with the actor can be done just before the PPM and in case they agree to being free ONLY then will they be presented to the client. A lack of mention from the actor of "may be not being available" is unprofessional and puts a lot of people in a spot of bother especially if they are liked by the agency and the client. The best thing for actors to do in cases where they dont know, is to inform the casting director that they have been shortlisted on the same dates that are required and they will know on the date X, which would be the date where the other production house would give a 100% confirmation on the project. It would be a very rare case where the actor is shortlisted in 2 commercials to be shot on the same dates and would also have the same finalizing date and the actor can take on the project whoever confirms the job first and informs the other of the unavailability immediately.
e.g. if a actor has be shortlisted on 2 different jobs both to be shot on say the 8th of the month he informs the one who has the PPM on the later date say 6th that he will know on the 5th (PPM date of the other project) for sure if he is available or not, that way he can be part of both lists and does not have to put anyone in a spot of bother as long as information is passed on time.

In case of feature films the main cast will have at least 3 call backs before they are finalised, the first round is to shortlist people, the 2nd and 3rd would be to see compatibility and the last is generally the look test (not necessary for these to happen in this order) Casting in features could go on for months and as people get close to being finalised they are told of approximately when they could be shooting. In most cases the director watches the entire audition for each character and then makes shortlists for it.

Just to sum up, a smart casting director will inform the actor of not only the shoot dates but also on what date when the actor would know if they are shortlisted and when they will be finalised. Also post finalising the cast a good casting director also informs the other actors who were part of the shortlist that they did not make it. A smart actor will know and use this information to maximize their chances of getting work.

For answer to the previous question see
Q3: Sex of the character? - Male or female or...

Read on for the next question
Q5: Is there a budget individually or totally? 

or go back to Casting Brief page to read the other questions.

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