Sunday, 29 January 2012

Getting Cast and Crew for Free

If you are just starting out making films or are studying film at University, chances are you don't have a huge amount of money lying around to fund your films with, and you won't want to spend what money you do have getting cast and crew to work on your films.

We wrote an article a while ago about volunteering yourself to work for "experience only" or "expenses only". However, there will be times when you are on the other side of that equation and you will want people to work for you without cash payment. In the same way we warned you in the other article about making sure that you are getting something out of the job, you need to make sure that whoever you are asking to work for you are getting something worthwhile as well, otherwise they simply won't do it.

When searching for cast you will find that a lot of new or undiscovered actors and actresses are fully aware that they can't go straight into regular, paid work. As a result, they are happy to work for free so long as they are getting something out of it themselves, most commonly expenses and showreel footage.

Expenses means covering the costs that the actor has incurred from working on your project. Expenses usually means reimbursing the cost of the actor's travel, accommodation and food and drink (if not provided by the production).

Showreel Footage involves providing the cast member with some footage for their acting showreel. Cast often request for a copy of the completed film or some footage from the shoot featuring themselves. They can then cut up their copy of the film and use certain clips in their showreel.

Casting directors are going to LOVE the way I'm holding this bag.
Getting good footage for their showreel is very important to up-and-coming actors and actresses, so you may find that they are far more willing to be a part of projects that offer a lot of screen time and/or on-screen dialogue. Realistically, a one-second shot of an actor stood in the background, eating a sandwich and not saying anything will not be much use in an acting showreel. Covering expenses is more to ensure that it is not costing them anything to be a part of your project.

In regards to crew, getting people to help shoot your film usually requires a similar deal as with cast. Expenses may be a little more complex, especially if the crew member is providing equipment as well as their expertise. In regards to showreel footage (or portfolio footage), crew usually either require a copy of the finished film or some rushes (raw, unedited footage from the shoot) which demonstrates their handiwork, be in cinematography, sound, set design, etc.

If you are taking on a crew member who is providing their own kit, be prepared to accept responsibly for the equipment while it is being used on your shoot. Many freelance filmmakers/videographers will ask you to sign some form of contract that would result in you paying for any damage sustained to the equipment.

It is important to remember that although there is a mutual gain for both parties involved, generally speaking you will need them more than they need you. As a result, you need to make sure you take care of people who are giving their time to work on your projects for no pay, perhaps even so than if you were paying them. Cast and crew are more likely to tolerate poor working conditions and anti-social hours (and anti-social people!) if the money if right, but there is nothing to stop volunteering cast and crew from walking off your set if they feel like they aren't being treated right.

If you ain't gonna be paying me,
then you better be putting some cheese on those fries.
So make sure you have regular communication with your cast and crew in the run-up to the shoot. During the shoot, provide them with food and drink and anything else that will keep them happy (within reason!). Finally, once the shoot is over and the project is completed, deliver your end of the bargain promptly, thanking them for their time.

Most importantly of all, you should be aware that cast and crew will only agree to work on your project for no pay in the absence of other, paid work. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for cast or crew member to agree to work on a project for no pay, only to drop out last minute because they are offered paid work that clashes with your project.

Later, bitches!
This is next-to impossible to predict, so all that you can do is be prepared for it and try to have some contingencies.

The Lowdown
Taking on cast and crew for no pay to help make your film can be very successful, but plan your project carefully, keep your cast and crew happy on everything you promised, otherwise you may well find that it'd have been easier just to pay everyone!

1 comment:

  1. A great place for finding crew members as well as locations and equipment is iCrewz.