Once you have your script or video outline, the gear, and the crew, you just need one more essential thing: your cast. Casting for your video production is not as easy as one would think. One person can give the video a certain feel, look, and quality you may like while another can ruin the whole thing. The right casting choice means already taking a big step in creating a successful video.
What are your options? It’s basically boiled down to three: a paid actor/actress, a professional within the context of the video, or a non-actor with no experience.
Before choosing which way to go, you first must determine exactly what kind of video you are setting out to make. Do you want a serious, professional video? Do you want a video that hopes to go viral? And how much time and budget do you have to work with? All this and more must be known before even considering which road you want to go down.
THE PAID ACTOR/ACTRESS
Generally, everyone’s first instinct is to hire a paid professional actor to act in the video production. There are definitely many pros when hiring an actor or actress. That includes having someone who is: reliable enough to be there early and stay without complaint for the entirety of the shoot, comfortable in front of a camera, familiar with taking direction and responding accordingly. But most importantly, they’ll give your video that special edge into serious/professional territory.
While that all sounds great, there are also some potential cons to think about. For one, hiring a professional actor can be costly. If you know you have a tight budget to begin with, you may need to go a cheaper route. They also may come across as too professional and diminish a certain authenticity you may be trying to bring to the video. That’s why it’s crucial for you to have a clear grasp of the video’s tone beforehand.
THE PROFESSIONAL (WITHIN THE CONTEXT)
To be clear from the start, I will use some examples. For SVG’s last shoot for Visual Foot Care, the company chose to bring in a professional foot doctor that could be given a topic and go on about off the top of his head. Another example is a recent shoot with a CEO, in which the CEO himself spoke in front of the camera. With this option, you’re getting a certain authenticity that might not come out when using a professional actor or actress.
A professional, however, can also be costly and should also be considered when thinking about the budget. Also, even if a professional is comfortable with a topic, it does not mean that he or she is comfortable speaking about it in front of a camera. So, if you decide to hire one, make sure they’re prepared to speak with a camera in front of them. While they may have a lot of knowledge, the nerves and possible fidgeting would become the focus and ruin the video. Be careful in your choice.
You usually pick a non-actor for one of three reasons: money, time, or authenticity. A non-actor can be cheap (maybe even free), he or she can be the fastest option if you have little to no time to hire someone, and, if comfortable enough, can provide the video with that special “everyman” quality that actors can sometimes have a hard time achieving.
Being cheap with the casting, though, may cost you in the long run. The person may not show up on time or feel a strong obligation to do a great job. They can also fumble over lines or not understand how to take direction and waste precious time during the shoot. That “authenticity” might also end up making your video feel cheap and unprofessional depending on how well the person does. This option is a big gamble. Sometimes, it can pay off, but it’s still a gamble all the same.
In the end, it really comes down to trusting your gut and understanding what exactly you want out of your video. Sometimes one video can include some or all three of the above options. With our Visual Foot Care Medical Training Videos, we used hired actresses and a real doctor for different videos. The doctor was able to glide through dense material at a steady pace and was comfortable doing so in front of the camera – something that would have taken a lot more time and script writing for an actor or non-professional actor to do. The actress was great with her ability to effortlessly read off a teleprompter while also not looking like she was directly reading off of it. They were both the right fit for those particular videos and with each came their own benefits.
Remember that not every video or situation is the same, so the right person for one thing may be wrong for another. Again, just stick with your gut and have an understanding of what you’re trying to achieve from the start. That way there will be a clear path from the beginning to get you to that desired end product.