StarNow Bubbles from a Casting Professionals' Perspective
Posted by Isabella Pearson on 02 Mar, 2021

StarNow Bubbles from a Casting Professionals' Perspective

We asked UK-based advertiser Anne Stone all about our brand new Bubble feature and the importance of casting real–life family and friends during COVID-19.

We’d love to find out more about you! Could you tell us about the kinds of things that you cast for and the kind of talent you’re generally seeking?

Hello! I am a casting director who specialises in casting actors for commercials and online ads and casting comedy actors and children in various campaigns.

In this industry, everything is so varied and you never know what you’re casting from one day to the next. You could go from casting a puppy and its owners to casting a group of children who play football. I was recently asked to find female cricketers for a film – it’s always good to have skills that can really get you looked at for a casting (the more unusual or surprising your talent, the better!).

I also cast real people for many campaigns and at the moment there seems to be an increasing trend for using real people for projects.

When I say ‘real people’, sometimes clients want someone who isn't an actor. I’m always very interested to hear about other things you do, for example, you might be a nurse, a hairdresser or an opera singer. It's great to have another job in this industry, perhaps acting is your sideline – you need something to fall back on as it's such a competitive market and work can often be irregular.

When I’m looking for real people I’m often looking for real families, and since COVID–19, there’s been a real trend in using families in a bubble.

It’s great when families have different talents and personalities to offer. As much as possible I like to open up my castings to everyone in the country and not make them specific to London.

How have COVID–19 restrictions impacted casting for you? Is being able to cast a real–life family or group of friends important?

I have luckily been very busy since COVID–19 and I have done lots of castings for real people whether it be friends, couples or families.

Early on, bubbles were a massive thing and even filming at home was something clients were interested in. With more and more downtime it’s really great to hone in on your filming skills and making great self–tapes which aren’t too long and not too over edited.

There is always a demand for real families. I would say in general that casting professionals prefer if your kids are slightly older in age so that they can also be involved unless they are looking specifically for a family with babies. My point is you are likely to get more work as your children grow up but again, each brief is different.

Friends and couples are great – I have done loads of these castings in the last six months.

Always remember to not get offended if you’re not picked, as unfortunately, the competition is even higher at the moment as so many people are looking for work. Don’t ever take it personally, it’s just that another couple or family was what they were looking for.

I am always looking for great chemistry and energy in self–tapes. It’s always worth doing a self–tape, and also the casting director should come back to you if there is another job. If I like a family and they’ve done well I will definitely go back to them for other work when I have it.

Don’t be put off, keep trying – it’s a bit of a long haul game but one day you will be perfect for the role!

Can you share with us how you’ve found casting with the StarNow Bubble feature?

I really like the StarNow Bubble feature as it’s an added bonus when I’m doing a casting. It’s great to be able to see couples or families together instantly.

The Bubble feature opens up opportunity, and I can then contact you directly with further details for a self–tape recording. It’s a great tool to have.

What kinds of opportunities have you found require real families or close contacts?

I’ve been casting real families and close contacts for years now. These opportunities can range from a car or holiday advertisement to online content.

Most recently I have cast for an online advertisement for a well known washing detergent brand where I was looking for couples, and I have just finished finding real people, friends, couples, and families for a travel brand.

I think that there is a lot more work out there now as there is so much online footage required for a brand's social media and website. This type of content is really popular at the moment.

My advice is to apply for everything you think you would be suitable for and see what happens. Most experiences are great experiences. Being on a set or location should be fun and it’s a bonus that you get paid.

Do you think the trend to cast real families or groups will continue?

This trend has been here for so many years now, and more so than ever, production companies are wanting to use real people as that’s what the public relate to. I love casting real people as it seems much more genuine than getting in an actor to deliver lines.

What are three tips you would give to talent who want to upload a Bubble to their StarNow profile?

  1. Use recent photos. Update your photos regularly, they don’t have to be professional shots. The photo should capture your personality, for example, it could be showing you laughing. Put up a range of options. If you have children, put current photos up as kids can change so much every year.
  2. Upload natural looking photos. Over–edited images or too much makeup is not what casting directors or producers like. Unless you’re applying for a modelling job, we want to see you looking as real and natural as possible, and just being yourselves and not filtering your photographs.When I’m casting, I want relatable families or couples that people at home can think ‘oh they look a bit like us’ or ‘they are not perfect’. Quirkiness and anything that stands out is really what I’m looking for. Keep makeup minimal, and show off any different hairstyles. Use natural light where possible – outside photos in good light are much better than ones taken at home with a messy background.Even taking a photo of you taking the dog for a walk, make sure to capture the photo when the light is beautiful.
  3. Use self–tapes. Self–tapes are a great way for casting professionals to see what you look like in the current day without any filtering or editing. When I’m looking for real people I want real people. I don’t want people who are perfect or airbrushed. Practice being yourself in your self–tape by showing your character and your personality and also your relationship together (when filming in a pair/group). What makes a self–tape great is when we see people bouncing off each other, having a laugh with good energy and banter.

Have there been any silver linings during COVID–19 that have changed casting for the better?

I’ve always made people submit a self–tape, so nothing much has changed for me. Maybe people are more experienced at executing self–tapes in a quicker way.

I would say it’s really important to do a great self–tape, as that is what’s getting you seen, as there are currently no in–person auditions. I think this will change things and maybe self–tapes will be how we cast many things moving forward, which is great news for people who don’t live in London.

What do you see as the biggest challenges coming up for Casting Professionals, and how can talent collaborate with you to ease the pressure?

One common challenge is that Casting Directors can be either extremely busy and stressed or have no work at all.

Sometimes we are inundated with people and try to get back to everyone as much as we can, but sometimes it just isn’t possible. So, don’t take offence if you haven’t been responded back to – it’s just that the response has been too overwhelming that it isn’t possible to get back to everyone.

I also think people don’t realise that as a Casting Director you can be working across two or three jobs at once. Often there aren’t enough hours in the day. You often are intensely working on one job and then in four days' time, it could be over.

So, please don’t bombard the Casting Director with emails asking ‘Have I got the part, when will I hear from you?’, these requests can literally consume their inbox.

It might also be useful to know that the Casting Director usually doesn’t make the final decision – that is down to the director and the client. The casting director submits you and puts the right people forward for the job and can recommend ‘I think this family would be great’.

Last but not least, your self–tape is so important, as this is what sells you and that’s what gets you through the door to be seen particularly now as we don’t have castings in person.

And more importantly: Be patient, and don’t give up.

Feeling inspired to share your Bubble? Get started now!

Add My Bubble

Casting Professionals, you can read more about our Bubble feature over on our help topic, or better yet, give ago yourself and place a listing!

Place a Listing

A special thanks to our member Stephen Stallone for his great Bubble example.