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czstealth
02-27-2013, 11:04 PM
I am directing my first professional short film in the next few weeks. In my past films I have just used friends for actors, but I would like to bring on an experienced actor for this project. I have looked through a casting book and found several possible targets. I am ready to start contacting the actors and agents, and I am looking for advice on how to make my email look professional. Here are a few questions that come to mind.

How should I start the email to get their attention?
Does anyone have an example email or template I can go off of?
How much information should I include about my project?
I am offering experience, name in the credits and food, but not pay. Should I mention this in the initial email?
Any other tips?

Any help is greatly appreciated!

Nick Soares
02-28-2013, 06:41 AM
I think you are going about this the wrong way, you can do professional short without all of this professional "Agent" stuff. This is your first short? My first thoughts would be to use anything and everyone around you, WHY???? Because you need to learn how hard it is to work with friends or family on a movie :p

Ok, on a more serious note: (Sorry just had my first sip of coffee and I was feeling a little crazy!)

How should I start the email to get their attention?

Local short film - Talent Needed!

Does anyone have an example email or template I can go off of?

Dear Local talent, and talent agents. My name is Name Here, I will be filming my first short film this December. If anyone is looking to get some screen time to please respond to this email. This is an opportunity to build up your acting reel, and just overall a chance to learn. I am new to this as well, so there are no ego's here. I can will provide food for all talent in the film and credits, unfortunately this is a no budget film - But my next one will not be, and I am looking forward to see who I can find for that film as well. Feel free to contact me at anytime.

Name Here

How much information should I include about my project?

You need to give as much info as you can, starting out as an actor is VERY difficult and frustrating, so you need to be 100% upfront with everything that is going on. Let them choose if they want to be a part of it.

I am offering experience, name in the credits and food, but not pay. Should I mention this in the initial email?

Yes


Any other tips?

As I mentioned before, be honest, let the talent or agent choose if they want to be a part of your film. This is the best way, because if anything is hidden it will just make you look bad and it will be a bad experience for everyone. If you are 100% honest with, Pay, Food, Locations, Shooting times, Your abilities, then when it comes down to the actual filming part everyone is expecting the same thing.

mara
02-28-2013, 06:54 AM
I would also suggest promising (and delivering!) a copy of the final product.

Nick Soares
02-28-2013, 07:03 AM
I would also suggest promising (and delivering!) a copy of the final product.

^ Yup!

khathawayart
03-04-2013, 02:14 PM
I'm a bit confused.

This is your "first professional short film" -- so you're getting paid...but the actors aren't?

Seems weird, but not impossible, I suppose.

Nick has the right idea--be as open as you can about the project. Be humble about asking for free talent and make sure you state what the trade off is: food, material for their reel, a copy of the final project, photos of them in character, etc. "Experience" isn't really a trade off...at least not one that they don't already know about -- it's such a given that it's not even worth mentioning. Your attitude should be that you're getting way more from them than you are giving--and that you understand--and appreciate that.

And please Avoid hyperbole. I see too much of it on craigslist and it's annoying as hell. "Be a part of an amazing production! Get your name on a movie!" Oh, brother. Don't try to sell them that working for nothing is the greatest thing ever. Have confidence, but don't hype the project too much or you risk sounding like a huckster. This works only with low-level wannabees, anyway. It may work on an inexperienced production assistant, but if you want an actor with chops, avoid the "gonna make you a star" route. It's a real turn off to the talent you want to attract.

Be open and honest and it will come through in the email. Also be realistic. Don't tell anyone you're gonna make a feature film in a week....or that your film will sweep all the festival awards next year. Mention stuff that has real impact on peoples' lives: production flexible to actors' work schedules....no late nights...OR...all-nite shoots! Details that allow them to decide if they want in--or not.


Kurt Hathaway
-------------------
VikingDream7 Productions
Video Production & Editing

khathawayart[at]gmail.com

Director
03-04-2013, 02:23 PM
No professional actor is going to work for free, at least not one that has an agent. Contacting an agent and asking one of their clients to work for free will make you look amateurish, and I'm being nice by using that word.

However, I get where you're coming from, you want to move up to some real actors and not your best friend from high school. Try posting at a local actors school, or contact a college that has a drama club. Many of these actors are good and will work for the credit.

Jungle Rot
03-06-2013, 05:46 PM
When I contact a potential cast/crew member, I usually give him/her the information on what the film is about, date and time they're needed, and ask them if they would be interested in helping out. After I receive a reply, I discuss more details such as information on their character and respond to any other questions they have.

What I've found is that free food is a good incentive, though it may not get more "serious" actors in on your film. However, with that said the people who do show up usually are more enjoyable to work with and still good at their craft. Just a thought.

czstealth
03-06-2013, 08:12 PM
Thanks everyone for your suggestions! I held my final audition today and it went great! Just one more question, once I have made my decision, how should I break the news to those who were not selected?

Director
03-07-2013, 02:38 PM
You tell them you found someone that fits the part, but you will keep them in mind for your next project.

khathawayart
03-17-2013, 12:39 AM
Just one more question, once I have made my decision, how should I break the news to those who were not selected?

===========================

I used to tell each candidate that if they're selected, they'll hear from us...if they're not, they won't, but don't be discouraged.

But with the internet what it is, it's much easier now to contact everyone and thank them, and send some kind of polite rejection....even if it's a form letter.


+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Dear ________

Thank you for your participation in our audition process.

{here, maybe a personalized comment based on your notes you took at the time}...Your sense of humor definitely came through....your choice of wardrobe was an inspiration, your intrepretation got us thinking, etc...

Then back to the form letter:

It was a tough choice, but we settled on another actor for the part, but we have your contact information if another part comes up in a future production, etc. blah, blah.

I'd like to see some actors weigh in and hear what they think about the rejection process and what works for them.



Kurt Hathaway
-------------------
VikingDream7 Productions
Video Production & Editing

khathawayart[at]gmail.com