Is it bad form to cast actors not selected for a lead as extras on the same project? at

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Old September 7th, 2005, 09:48 AM   #1
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Is it bad form to cast actors not selected for a lead as extras on the same project?

The title is self-explanatory. I am thinking that the extras may feel animosity towards the actors who took their role.
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Old September 7th, 2005, 10:46 AM   #2
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I'm sure if they have a problem with it they just wouldn't take the part of the extra, right?

Clear the air up front, make sure that they'll act professionally or they won't get credit for being in your film. Most actors need to build their resume and any experience is good experience (usually).
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Old September 7th, 2005, 02:25 PM   #3
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How about letting them try for different parts and never really say that they are considered for the lead? Just a role?
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Old September 7th, 2005, 09:59 PM   #4
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I had a student do that once, and out of 7 people that read for lead and supporting roles, only 2 showed up. Mostly because they were first time actors.

I would recommend against it.

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Old September 8th, 2005, 07:07 AM   #5
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At the time of the audition we usually ask them if they would be interested in a smaller role should we end up casting someone else for the featured part. People are pretty up front about whether or not that's acceptable. Bringing it up during the "don't call us..." stage seems kind of rude.
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Old September 8th, 2005, 08:13 AM   #6
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Yes, it's a very rude thing to do. Best thing to do is let them have the option of wanting to be an extra, LET THEM KNOW!!! Don't just let them show up thinking they're in the lead role and dupe them. Also, don't let them get their hopes up beforehand either. Either they've got the role or they don't. If you can't decide what that person will be in your movie before shooting, then you shouldn't do anything at all until you do decide, it is a very amateurish and rude thing to do. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but it's like asking someone to the prom only to dump them the day before because the girl you wanted to ask is available. It's just got "bad" all over it.
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Old September 8th, 2005, 09:14 AM   #7
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I also recommend NOT casting anyone on the day of the casting. Wait a day or two, and tell people if they don't hear from us, they didn't get it. But it may take up to a week.

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Old September 8th, 2005, 09:29 AM   #8
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Our policy is everybody gets a final call letting them know one way or the other. It's cruel to leave them hanging. I've seen actors torture themselves for weeks with false hope (okay, not over our not-so-prestigious productions). You always want to leave a good impression and keep the door open to casting them in the future, either on another project or as a replacement on the current one if somebody flakes out.
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Old September 29th, 2005, 07:33 AM   #9
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As stated don't cast the day of auditions.

You can call them and ask if they would be interested in other parts. Tell them you'd really like to work with them, but you had to go a different way in casting.

I've auditioned for parts where they give you an info sheet to fill out. There's a check box for "would you consider other parts" etc...

Last auditions I had an actress come in with whom I've worked in the past and she's always done a great job. Her audition was terrible. Since I did know her well enough I called her up and asked her to be an extra and swing player(actor who is stuck anywhere when someone bails). Sure enough a last minute injury stuck her in a great role which she nailed. It was a big mark in her favor that she agreed to do it. I've done swing roles in the past and they suck!
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Old September 29th, 2005, 04:10 PM   #10
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Similar to others posted above, I recently had a great experience providing mandatory "audition quizes" at the cast audition. I had the actors check what level of part they'd be ok with (A. lead only, B. any speaking part, C. aw hell I'm bored I'll play anything). And surprisingly, some of my stronger candidates tool option C.

Most didn't fill out the quiz until after auditioning, it was more important for them to concentrate on auditioning. But afterwards they had a better understanding of the project and calmly filled out their quiz, without the pressure to say "yes I'm super flexible" as they would if I'd asked them face to face. Really removed the discomfort that others have referred to above associated with calling them back for a smaller role.

For reference, I also included the entire shooting schedule day by day and had them check off their availability as they knew it at the time. They were quite honest about availability, even though their noted partial availability contradicted their verbal promise that they could be available for the whole shoot.

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Old March 14th, 2007, 05:07 AM   #11
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Extras in indies...

Speaking as an actor\filmmaker, Iīd insist you both delay your casting choices (at least a day), and have a check-box or something on their audition sign-in info sheet.... Then you allow THEM to make their own decisions.

BG is paying work in big-budget stuff, but itīs demeaning to actors that have trained and are viable... Itīs EXTREMELY demeaning if youīve been considered for the lead, then īdemotedīto extra, for no pay.

I actually went through this experience, believe it or not:

A casting notice was placed, I responded, and reminded the filmmaker of a previous audition that I had done for him. He remembered me, and brought me in for a īpre-screenī.... (first warning flag)... but I stepped up to the challenge, and brought in the monologue that was requested... (a monologue for a feature film audition? quasi-theatrical, but...)

I was then called back a total of 3 times, to perform the same scene ad nauseum. When inquiring with the director regarding his casting choices... (and done correctly, this is not a faux-pas in the indie world... in indies, we are our own agents, most of the time)... he said that he was having difficulty choosing between myself and two others. I suggested that he provide a DIFFERENT scene, to provide contrast, and was met with scorn.

And then this audacious director had the nerve to ask if I wanted to extra in the short he was shooting that weekend. I refused, as we all need to eat, and I wasnīt interested in booking off work for a non-speaking, non-paying role...

And then, guess what? Surprise, surprise, he dropped me from consideration, saying "I only want to work with actors who donīt care what size role they have."

I understand the sentiment, but trying to bilk extra work from an actor thatīs already auditioned for you 4 times for a lead role, is extremely disrespectful. I may have come out for the day, had I not been jerked around for so long.

But thatīs just one story, and yet another reason Iīve joined the filmmaking community. Directors need to respect their actors. Itīs a hard life, constantly vying for approval.

Now, there is a truism to the statement that "there are no small roles", but non-speaking roles are just cattle. When youīre paid to mill about and moo, thatīs one thing. But when itīs for the craft (ie-nonpaying) every actor worth their salt wants SOME sort of arc.

Of course, the flip side of this argument is that actors in the indie world, think they can play ANY role... This is, of course, not true.

Simply put, if itīs an indie, and the actor in question has training and chops, give them an arc, or donīt include them. If theyīve got a small resume, and are keeners, theyīll jump at any opportunity, but allow THEM to make that choice.

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Old May 3rd, 2007, 02:41 PM   #12
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If you get in over your head

just keep casting. I agree with Heath, don't offer another role. If someone is called in to read for a role, I will only talk to them about that role. I can always repost and see more folks for another role. They'll see the notice and maybe they'll come in, again. Also, I don't call everybody back. I can't. It's crazy and my time if more important than calling someone back to tell them 'no'. On some level, it's arrogant to tell someone no and make a big deal about it. Professional/working actors will know in about 3 days if they got a role. They won't need your call. It's like applying for a job. They'll call if they want you to work there.

I've cast folks the day I saw them but it was always an issue at some point so I'll never do that, again. Also, I don't offer any roles, unless it's a name. Everyone has to read and come back. Even if she's perfect and your friend knows her and has used her, if she's a nobody, name wise, don't cast her or offer her a role without seeing her or having her read.

And always cast the best person for your role. Production is a strange nightmare that some of us are addicted to. I venture to say we are addicted to stress because that's really the only constant of low budget filmmaking. That said, if she's nice, don't cast her for being nice. If she's on time and a bitch, but she reads great- cast her. If she has a lot of conflicts and she's a no-name, then don't.

I can't tell you how many times I've hired or cast people I wouldn't be friend with. And as a guarantee, all of this is only my experience and not law. It'll probably only fare me well but I felt comfortable to share it, here.
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Old May 4th, 2007, 12:57 AM   #13
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You're asking them to do you a favor.

Just keep that in mind before you ask anyone. You should assume that they will respond with the same level of enthusiasm as they would if you asked them to do other favors for you.

Some of 'em will just like being on set and will happily show up.
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