Casting Tilt: Part 1

Posted: Monday, March 29, 2010
There are a lot of things that go into pre-production.  It's a busy time, trying to fit everything together to prepare for shooting.  There is one task, though, that has me in equal parts excitement and worry. Casting.  I think the casting of Tilt will be one of the more difficult parts of the pre-production process. There are several things that are working against us. However, I believe we will find the right people. And then I'll be able to sleep again, for a little while.


This can be a stumbling block.  I would imagine that it would be so much easier to get people to try out for parts if they know they will get paid.  This will not be one of those films, though. Tilt is an ultra-low budget film.  There is not going to be a place in the budget for actors, aside from expenses.  We will be covering travel, accommodations, and meals.  Hmmm...written like that, it sounds like a vacation.  Maybe that's how I should put it in the casting notice: "Come to the beautiful Brainerd Lakes area for an all inclusive acting gig."  I like it!


Some of the roles in this movie are not easy down right difficult.  The two main characters are complex and will really take some special actors to be able to pull them off.  I have gotten really lucky with the actors for my short films.  There have been some fantastic performances, even from people who have never acted before.  I'm going to need some of that luck, now more than ever.  I know there is someone out there who is going to be perfect for each of the parts.  The hard part is going to be finding them. 

Location, Location, Location

Brainerd, without a doubt, is a very lovely place to live.  I really enjoy it here, and I think it's a great place to raise my kids.  That being said, Brainerd is not a very lovely place to cast a feature film.  I would like to audition as many actors as I can for these wonderful roles, but the population of Brainerd is 13,178.  Our friend, Ted Fisher has about that many people who live on his block.  So, it looks like we will have to spread our search a little wider than just locally this time.  

If we go south 2 - 2.5 hours, we have the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.  Now we're getting somewhere.  We might even find a little bit of that luck I was talking about.  I know there are people in the Twin Cities who want to act, but what other projects are we competing with to get actors?  Well, here is a comparison.  I pulled a screenshot of the casting notices for New York City and from all of Minnesota from in the casting lo/no pay catagory.

Click photo to blow up New York!

Click photo to blow up Minnesota!

There are 296 results in New York City and 1 result in all of Minnesota.  Of course, that's only on one website, but the research I've done hasn't turned up a huge number of of casting notices on any site for Minnesota.  Perhaps there just aren't a lot of features films going on in Minnesota?  Maybe this will work in our favor.  

There are a couple other websites I will post the casting notice on.  One will, of course, be craigslist; I don't think I need to explain that.  However, should I post it in the talent section under gigs or in the tv/film/video section under jobs?  The other site I'll be posting to is our Minnesota Film and TV Board website.  It's a great resource for anyone considering filming in Minnesota.  

Hmmm, maybe all of this isn't going to be so bad.  Now, to get people to drive a couple hours north to come to a casting call.  Stay tuned for part 2...


  1. Mahogany J. Slide March 30, 2010 at 11:19 AM

    wow, thanks so much, this post is really helpful. Im about to start the casting process myself and its good to get some insight from someone already in the thick of things.

    cant wait 4 part 2!

  2. Self Helpless March 30, 2010 at 2:12 PM

    We tried casting for 2 roles using a craigslist posting and a casting website. 1 was a tough role because it was for an unattractive, large, older woman. We were lucky enough to find the perfect person. Using the interwebs was probably the only way this could have worked out.

    For the other roles, young attractive girls, the online stuff was a disaster.

    - a ton of people responded and confirmed showing up for a reading, none of them showed up
    - so many weirdos and kooks
    - big investment of time, no results

    My recommendation, network face to face whenever possible. Food, travel, and lodging are pretty good for an unknown actor. We offered way less than that and we had no problem getting friends and acquaintances to commit some time.

    If you have one or two roles that will be almost impossible to fill through friends, family, and industry contacts, then online casting posts are not a bad last resort.

    When you are running a no-budget production you need a lot from your actors. Some nominal compensation is nice, but really you need them to get personally invested in the success of the project. Those kinds of people are your friends and family. They already know and believe in you. For a true indie that can be even more important than an actor's resume or skill set.

  3. Philontilt March 31, 2010 at 10:51 AM

    Mahogany J. Slide: Thanks for the comment. I glad you found it to be helpful.

    Self Helpless: Thanks. I love your comment - "Some nominal compensation is nice, but really you need them to get personally invested in the success of the project." So, so true!

  4. Maria April 1, 2010 at 10:05 AM

    Great post - loved the video.

    You might try researching all the small theater companies within a 100 mile radius. You'd be surprised, there are probably a few. Ask them to put up notices... you might get some reaches. Also, there might be some modeling agencies in the Twin Cities and you might find some bonafide actors among the 'pretty faces'.

  5. Philontilt April 1, 2010 at 10:18 AM

    Great ideas! Thanks Maria!

  6. Maria April 1, 2010 at 10:56 AM

    Oh and since you're in Minnesota - I bet there are some church groups that put on plays. Seriously, no kidding. You might find some budding talent there.

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