Casting for marketing and sales videos

You can’t wait! After a lot of planning, scripting, and budgeting work with the production company you’ve hired, it’s finally time to shoot your videos! Your new, upscale bakery will get quite a boost from them. You’ve got the marketing plan all worked out. You’ll distribute the videos on social media and use a couple for television ads, not to mention a wonderful introductory video on the homepage of your new website.

And what a get! The production company has landed Jamie Oliver to come in and lend his endorsement to your bakery! You nearly crashed the car when you got the call on your cell phone. There was a lot of dropout, but you distinctly heard “Oliver” and, of course, he was flying in from New York so who else would it be? So right away you agreed to his fee, which seemed very modest for such a celebrity chef, and to put him up in the best hotel in town and cover his airfare and meals. Pricey, but it will all be worth it.

“Welcome, Mr. Oliver!” The producer has just rushed to the door, and is escorting him in…

Wait. Who is that? He doesn’t look anything like Jamie Oliver! He’s way too old, he’s… he’s….

“Ms. Brightman, let me introduce Edgar Oliver!” The producer is beaming as the gaunt man offers you a smile (you think it’s a smile) and a limp handshake. Then his eyes wander over to the display case where some of your finest baked goods are waiting to be highlighted in the videos.

“Is that a sachertorte?” he oozes, sounding for all the world like Peter Lorre.

As the introduction continues, you discover that Edgar Oliver is a well-known performance artist in New York, who became somewhat of a national cult celebrity for his appearances on the show Oddities . Mostly because he does sound like Peter Lorre. Yes, this is your celebrity spokesman.

This is also a lesson. Never, ever let a production company cast your video without looking over everyone they have in mind. You don’t have to use a microscope if the people are just going to be extras in the background, but if anyone has lines or is going to be in the forefront of the shots, especially if they’re going to have shots focused solely on them, look them over. Then look them over again.

Well, you DID tell the production company to cast someone with a sense of humor...

Well, you DID tell the production company to cast someone with a sense of humor…

Casting is part of the pre-production process, but first you have to agree on the concept and the storyboard. The production company could pitch certain types of people for your video, but you may have your own ideas about who you’d like to see. Make sure you speak up and ask questions to ensure the company understands who you want for the project. At that point, the company will reach out to casting and talent agencies and get a list of potential actors. Ideally, they’ll also get links to videos of the actors’ work. You should make sure to get those links too. This is the beginning of the winnowing process.

At that point, both you and the company may be satisfied with what you’ve seen and choose the actors accordingly. Or, you may decide you’d like to meet the actors in person for a casting call. If that’s the case, make sure you have several potential candidates lined up to make it worth your time. The production company should have a basic script ready that the actors can read.

This is when you have to use a little imagination. Can you see them saying those lines effectively, and do they fit into the scene you have so carefully planned through storyboarding? Most importantly, are they people you want associated with your product?

If you have any doubts or hesitations, this is the time to relay them to your production company (we advise not doing it in front of the actors, who, after all, are people and feel the same way as everyone else when rejection rears its ugly head). Go with your gut instinct. You don’t have to rationalize it to yourself or anyone else. If you don’t think a particular actor would be a good fit with your video, then don’t use that actor.

All of these factors hold true if you’re producing a video for sales presentations. The people who appear in them should reflect the way you want your company represented, whether they’re portraying employees or customers. You know best how you want your company to be viewed, and casting for the video gives you a perfect opportunity to ensure those standards are met.

This is one part of the process where Hencar likes to see a strong partnership with the client. We’ll present suggestions, but we’ll be relentless in getting solid feedback from you. Every aspect of the video should make you feel confident and good about the project, and casting is one area where shortcuts will only undercut that goal. Taking time to make the right casting choices will ensure you get a big payoff when it’s time to bring up the curtain for the world to see your video.