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Friday, April 12, 2013

Casting Brief Q6: Casting Requirements?

For the entire List of casting questions go back to
Casting Brief

Question 6: Who will take care of the requirements of the audition?

This question is directed form the casting director to the producer. So what are these requirements that I am talking about

1. Space to audition.
2. Camera, Lights and Power Supply 
3. Backdrop (if needed)
4. Props (if needed)
5. Any other special requirement 
6. Stationary
7. Conveyance and food
8. Phone / Net Bill

Now while most casting directors charge a fee and rest at actual's there are some production houses that like to make deals with casting directors (rarely happens), the deal being that the production house would pay just one figure and the casting director would do the rest all inclusive. Why would any casting director take up the latter proposition it would be if they think that they could make a little more by making better deals with suppliers or if they themselves own either equipment or space thus saving on rent, also if they are confident of wrapping up the casting within the time so that it does not go overboard. Why would a production house take this route its simple, one bill, one figure this cannot go overbudget since the figure gets decided upfront. This route is very risky for the casting director since if any variable is to change they might just loose more money rather than saving.

This question has to be asked as the casting directors fee is determined basis on these variables. There are mostly in between deals that are made, where the production house would provide / pay for certain things and rest has to be taken care by the casting director. Lets talk about each requirement in detail to understand this.

1. Space to audition - if a space is hired for audition rent has to be paid for using that space. In cases where casting has to happen for only a few days, renting a space might be feasible, also some audition spaces these days provide with some of the other requirements like camera, lights and backdrop along with a assistant, making it easier on everyone. In cases where casting could go on for a long time (weeks to months) like in features, or in case the production house wants to save money on rent or time* is a huge factor, in such cases a space is provided by the production house which is usually a room in the office and sometimes even in the space just outside the office like in the compound or corridor. Minimum requirement of space for a audition should be so that the camera can capture the full length of the actor without having to tilt the camera and the area should have decent lighting and not too much outside noise. 
The number of people coming for audition also makes a difference to where the audition is held, if there a lot of people expected in a single day (like in advertising) then usually space is rented out unless the production house has sufficient space to keep people waiting and preparing for their parts. In case there are only a few people coming in, like only a select few have been called, like in the case of features or in the case its a call back then these do take place in the production house's office space.     

*Time in this case is the time after the audition is captured and for the video to be seen by the director, and if liked sent further for approval. Or if cast is required urgently like for the next day's shoot.

2. Camera, Lights and Power Supply - in order to record a audition the casting director needs a camera, any camera of a decent resolution should work, earlier dv camera's were used, still gets used in some places but that has now been outdated since dv camera requires dv tapes which then have to be transferred to a digital format to view which involves both a lot of time and money. Some casting directors own a camera themselves and they charge rent for it or include this in their fees. Owing a camera is also good thing for production houses who do a lot of work as this helps bring down cost, it also helps at times when the actor can not make it to the audition room but can come to the office to give the audition (since the audition location might be far). Helps in cases of call backs and smaller tests as well.
Lights are definitely required for auditions that are conducted in closed rooms, a couple of decent powered lights is the minimum requirement, these can be either soft boxes or light bounced of thermocol, basic idea always is to have the actor evenly lit from both side's i.e. no shadows mainly on the face. When auditions are conducted in office spaces its still ideal that the room has sufficient internal lighting or there is enough sunlight coming in. In case the audition is held in corridor or in a outdoor space the person recording has to make sure that beyond light the sound of the actor is also picked up clearly by the camera.
Rented studios sometimes charge separately for power supply (rarely) usually its included in the cost provided the lights used are basic, which is why most current audition spaces provide these and include the cost in the rent. In case of areas provided by the production house they need to make sure that there are sufficient outlets for power and extension chords for the same.     

3. Backdrop - this is required if space in which the audition is being help is too noisy** or is too cluttered, like when auditions happen in offices, an ideal space would have a single coloured clear back wall or the use of a backdrop is required, this helps in keeping the viewer's attention only the actor giving the audition and not get distracted by the space around it. Not always can one have a backdrop to audition in such cases a clear back wall with almost nothing on or around it is a ideal space. If a backdrop is being rented out then it could be either in light colour, white or offwhite are usually used some cases a completely dark backdrop also gets used like grey in those cases it is make the actor stand out from the space, provided that they are in bright clothes and have been lit well. 
A backdrop is a clear piece of paper or cloth with no print on it, same like the ones used in photo studios  but large enough to cover the actors entier action, sometimes cover even 3 people in the same scene. It should be ideally large enough so that the camera captures only the actor and nothing else around. Production houses that do casting quite often and dont have a clear wall usually keep these backdrop's which can be put up easily with the help of 2 stands.. even chroma cloth gets used at times

**noisy - too many things in the background like pictures on the wall, clock, table furniture etc..

4. Props (if needed) - in the scene to be auditioned there would be props that might be required, simple things like a cell phone, or a chair, table etc can easily be arranged, but there are times when specific props are required, like a gun or a ball or a mask etc these may have to be rented out or there has to be a agreement (the director should know about this advance) that the actor will make do of what even is available like use a stick instead of a gun. Depending on the rent of the prop, the producer would decide if its required or not to hire that prop but there are cases when even expensive props have to be hired like in case of testing if the actor can act while riding a bike or driving a car or is the actor comfortable to act underwater etc, in such cases it makes sense for the producer to spend the money on these tests rather than have the shoot stuck because the actor can not ride a bike.

5. Any other special requirement  - any other special requirement is similar to that of special props, like may be the actor has to talk while eating or the actor has to do something unique like a summersault or some specific stunt then depending on what is required to that situation. If there is a piece of costume that is required for the test like a hat or a specific kind spec frames etc.

6. Stationary - this includes a slate and a marker for the actor to hold with his details at the start of the audition, some casting directors still use paper here and that is pure waste of resource. Beyond this there is the script printouts, paper  / book for making a cue sheet, tapes if a dv camera is being used or Digital cards, transfer cables, CD's,  DVD's or  any other storage and transfer device, most of the time these are included in the casting directors fees as these are usually really small figures. If they have to be charged it is at actuals against a bill that the casting director should collect while buying the same.

7. Conveyance and food - if casting is happing for a few days then this figure is small and is easily taken care of but in case where casting is over a period of time then most of the time the producer sets a limit to how much of money should be spent each day on food and travel of course bills would have to be produced for calming of the food at least and accounts would have to be settled from time to time. Conveyance is for dropping of casting material to the production office or directors house. 

8. Phone / Net Bill - here if its a short casting then usually there is no charge that is passed on to the producer but in case where casting has to happen over a period of time then either the producer gives the casting director a phone to use for all official calls or takes care of the bill at the end of each month specially if the casting is happing in another city or country. 
With social media catching on and with the latest apps even these figures are getting to a ignorable amount, like most casting directors would post the requirement on a social media page, tagging a few people who they think need to come, also used is here are services like BBM or Whatsapp where a group is made overtime and a single message gets delivered to all what the requirements for the audition are and people who think they suit the requirement go for the auditions.

So depending on who is paying for what finalises the casting directors fees, although the most common practice would be to charge a fee and the rest at actuals. It is also best that the casting director reads the script or the storyboard before meeting for the casting brief so that he knows what his requirements would be in advance.


For answer to the previous question see
Q5:- Budget?

Read on for the next question
Question 7: Is there a contract to be made?

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

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