How to organise a Test Shoot: The Casting Process
In the past weeks, we have analysed the preparation of a test shoot from a personal perspective, giving a lot of insight on how to plan the idea and how to make sure to collect the right amount of people you need. This week we will focus on how to get the people you need. Please note this is based on our experience and do not want to be a holy reference on how to use social media or how to manage contacts with agencies. This is what works for us, and we are pretty happy about it.
Do you want to know how and where we find creatives and models for our photo shoots?
Specialised Social Networks
There are dozens of social networks you can use to get models or other creatives on board for your test shoot. Model Mayhem, Purple Port, Pure Storm, Star Now and Model Management are amongst those that we use regularly, depending on what we are looking for. Model Mayhem is the more diverse, and you can find a lot of creatives as well as tons of models (or wannabes). Through these networks, the key is to create a clear and precise casting and manually search for models or creative who can fit the role. The communication is key, especially as the reliability of the “Wanna Bes” models is not always good. Make sure you clarify every point well in advance and try to have a proper phone chat with the people you want to bring on board. If a person doesn’t sound committed to the shoot, do yourself a favour and don’t cast him or her. The central issue with these social networks is that, in general, they are a great source, but they contain a lot of people whose professionalism may be questionable. If you feel that a person is not committed, the risk is to be “flaked” (people not showing up the day of the shoot).
A note on professionalism
Sourcing models from the specialised social networks may result in being stood up. This is a risk you take for testing with non-agency models. The “flakers” use an incredible array of excuses or lies, but they all ends up in the same bucket! From the “my nan was sick, and I had to be in the hospital where there was no mobile reception” to the “I was up sick all night, and I was not in a great state”, you might start to feel you are unlucky. The only way to avoid this is a good communication from YOUR side. Remember: if they flake on you, most probably you haven’t done a good enough selection.
Lately, we leverage the standard social networks as Twitter and Facebook for our castings. On twitter, we have quite a lot of followers and Facebook has a lot of groups that may be of great use to you. Differently from the specialised social networks, where we post a very detailed casting, on Facebook or Twitter we just put the word out that we are looking for a specific type of professional; only after being in touch, we send the details of the shoot. This is simply to avoid over-detailed information in a network which is not particular to this industry.
If you need help with organising a shoot or if you want to be trained on how to make the most out of your resources: get in touch! We have an one2one program that can cover the organisation of a shoot from inception to the shoot.
When looking for creatives, agencies are the best sources you can get. There is a catch, though: your work should be to a good standard already to get into their radar. The “how” is pretty simple. First of all you need to target the agencies that are suitable for your style. Find the agencies that show images that are compatible with your portfolio and your mood board. Prepare the portfolio for them and get in touch asking them if you can send it over. From there it is just a matter of making sure to offer them something that can be useful to them. Steve Read has written an interesting blog post on the “testing with models” issue, and I strongly suggest you to read it.
If you are just starting, this may not be the best way to start, as an agency wants to see the quality in the photographers’ portfolios before sending them models.
Online Casting or Face to Face Castings?
Nowadays 99% of our casting are online. We do not need to host a lot of face to face castings as they are time consuming. Especially for unpaid tests, requiring a face to face casting may limit the number of people interested in the shoot. We would focus on an in person for a paid job, something important, but for a simple test a good casting and quality communication can be enough!