Step 11. Casting
Now the fun stuff starts. You need actors for your movie. But as a low-budget and independent filmmaker, where do you find actors who will work at reduced rates or for free? Considering you’re working at a fast pace, what types of discomforts will they be willing to endure? And if you get actors to sign on for free, will they commit to stay on until the film is finished?
Casting is just as important as your script. I do not think you should proceed with your movie under any circumstances unless you are thrilled with your cast. That’s why it’s important to find actors who are a perfect for their parts. As the producer, you can do the casting yourself and may have to considering your budget. But if it is at all possible, find a casting director whose sole responsibility is to find you the right actor for each part. Good casting directors have an instinctive and intuitive sense and will know if the actor is going to work.
The actors you are looking for that you can afford are called type actors. These are less experience actors that have the same wants and needs of the character in the script. Essentially, the actor is playing a version of himself or herself. Professional actors who have a wide range of experience are called chop actors. They understand the techniques that are necessary to access character traits alien to their own personality or character. In other words, they can act.
Most first-time and low-budget filmmakers struggle with the decision to register with the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). Should you do it or not? The truth is you’re going to have to jump through a few more hoops and deal with some constraints. But I think it makes sense to apply for an ultra-low-budget agreement. The agreement will give you access to SAG actors at a substantially reduced rate. A typical day rate will range from $100 to $125 for an eight-hour day.