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Casting the right actor is a big part of successful directing. Casting takes time; don’t rush the process. Knowing the character thoroughly at the beginning will help you talk to actors intelligently and get them interested in donating their time to your project.

Write clear and detailed character breakdowns. 


For small projects or projects for an introductory Production class, students are encouraged to cast Pepperdine students. You may choose to cast other students within your Production class but students may also use the bulletin board within the Smothers Theatre to post a casting notice. 


These services are free to students (the actors have to pay to be listed.) Read all of the information carefully. Fill out the information about your project (locations, dates, format, etc.). Be sure to indicate that your project is “non-union”. 

Casting Networks Inc.


Breakdown Express 


The first step is to break down the script and make a list of all the parts that are big enough for “professional” actors. Keep in mind a role with one line or a non-speaking part is not going to be of any interest to actors. Write a brief description of each character. In general, short posts attract more submissions than long ones. Write just enough to get the actor interested. 


Be sure to check the actors resume and do not just rely on the photos. A good-looking but inexperienced actor may require a lot of patience and directorial energy. Talent and experience can be more valuable than the perfect height or hair color. 


Prepare a short synopsis of the script and a short description of the character. Know when you are going to shoot and when you want to hold rehearsals and auditions. Reserve a space to hold your auditions and allow at least 20 minutes for each audition. 


Get the actors “sides” one to two days before the auditions. Sides are the portions of the script that the actors will be performing in the audition. If you wait to give your actors sides until right before the audition, you will only know who can improv the best and not who can prepare and develop a character the best. Because of this, make sure to have all of the actors’ emails. Have copies of the sides available for your actors on the day of the audition. 


After the audition always call the actors back – even if you didn’t cast them. They will appreciate this professional courtesy. 


Confirm dates, times, locations. The best thing to do is email your actors the call sheet including a map to the location(s). Have them sign a Talent Consent and Release Form before they appear on camera. Talent Consent and Release Forms can be found on the Production Forms section of this website. 


Treat actors with respect and consideration. Remember, the more professional and organized you are, the more the actors will respect and trust you. Think ahead and make sure to have a private place for actors to change into wardrobe, have food available for them, and have a comfortable space for them to wait between shots. 


Keep the actors informed about your post-production schedule. Let them know when you will be done with the project and when they can expect their copy of the film. Make sure all of your actors get a copy of the project. Keep the actors informed about any viewing or screenings. 


If students wish to use SAG actors in their Productions they must follow all SAG AFRA requirements. 

A SAG agreement obligates you to pay your actors at scale and royalties, if the film is ever released commercially. Pepperdine is NOT a signatory to the SAG contract and it is therefore the responsibility of the student producer to review the contract fully and decide if they wish to proceed. 

Basic terms and rates for SAG Student Film: 

  • Shoot entirely in the United States

  • Total budget of less that $35,000; maximum running time of 35 minutes

  • Principle performer rates deferred up to 12 hours/day; overtime after 12 hours not deferred

  • Performer consent required prior to distribution; $125/day due prior to initial release;P&H (Pension and Health) contribution equal to 18.5% of total gross salary

  • Wardrobe, Mileage, Penalties are not deferred

  • Stunt coordinator minimum payment is $980/day, not deferred

  • Project needs to be cleared prior to start of rehearsal or travel

This is a link to the SAG Student Film Agreement which lists all of the requirements: 

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