5 Tips for Choosing Talent for Your Next Video
When it comes to producing video, it doesn’t matter how skilled your preparation and perfect your execution is if you haven’t cast the right talent. Ensuring your talent selection truly connects with your audience is an art in of itself. One that relies on groundwork early in the campaign planning process in order to be successful. It is a hugely important task and can mean the difference between producing a believable message and missing the mark.
In essence, the characters written into your scripts and the talent you hire to play them become a very important part of your audience’s journey. Having a clear understanding of who your target personas are, what they think, believe, do, and what they will respond to allows us to minimize the guesswork and look for talent that reflects those traits. The more specific we can be about the gender, age, style, inflection, etc., the easier it is for a casting director to bring that person to life – literally. Identifying your audience and developing a known persona for that audience makes the talent selection process more seamless and sets us up for success. Even if the characters in the script aren’t acting out your identified persona directly, chances are the character would be someone they care about or identify in their lives. Example: if the audience for our Shape Your Future, spot is a busy mom, our cast might be a group of young children cooking dinner with their babysitter or another adult figure.
While your brand might not be involved with casting the next major Blockbuster, it doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to see the parallels of stories told in Hollywood and story techniques we see in advertising across all platforms. All narratives follow the same patterns: an introduction of a problem, a climax, a falling action, and a resolution. In marketing, we typically have about thirty seconds (or less!) to convey an entire plot. That’s some serious acting. We have to choose talent that is capable of taking the audience through that journey at such a fast pace.
Budget is always a driving factor in talent selection. Your budget may allow for higher paid talent from New York or LA, or your budget may require local talent. Though just because you don’t have a feature film budget, doesn’t mean you can’t find solid talent that will connect with your audience and drive them to take action.
Tips for strategically hiring talent for your next video project:
If you’re conducting recorded auditions, have your actors do more than just perform the lines from your script. Give them the opportunity to put their stamp on the audition. They may be a really great hula-hooper!
If your budget requires you to cast from headshots, always request current photos (thank God for smartphones) so you can see what the actor/actress looks like today. They may have changed their hairstyle or their professional headshot could be several years old.
Whenever possible, request a range of diversity, gender, ethnicity, body shape, and more. Sometimes, it’s easy to paint yourself into a box on a script. Keep an open mind about your actor while also keeping within the parameters of the script. A great tip is to look for an actor who is diverse neutral. This means an actor or actress that cannot be easily identified as one race or another. This isn’t always possible but it can help ensure that a broad range of diverse audiences connect with that person.
Be very specific about your needs in your talent selects. If there is a specific requirement, be sure to describe that in your search. Include physical requirements, accents, energy level, and any additional information about the script. Be sure you’ve identified a talent budget and allow plenty of time to conduct your search. Finding great talent can take time!
A large number of scripts these days are driven by a voiceover. It is very important to remember when casting a voice talent that you are choosing a character to represent your brand. This person will be the voice of your brand’s story in this particular spot. Be sure you are selecting for appearance and voice.
When we’re watching a movie, social media video, or TV commercial, we hardly think about the actual person behind the screen – just how we feel when we’re watching it. Consider all the great ads you’ve seen. Chances are, you felt a connection with the person speaking or acting on screen. To make a great video, the human connection we see and hear can be extremely impactful when it comes to achieving our marketing objectives.