Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Tip #28: Approach a named actor

By Sinéad Ferguson (Producer/Production designer)

While many understand the importance of attaching a named actor to a project a common belief is that the agent is to be avoided when making the approach. While this is not always the case, the odds are you probably stand a slightly better chance if you can approach the actor directly. During pre-production, we approached several well known actors via email, for parts in Ambleton Delight, receiving great responses. Of course there are no hard and fast rules to getting your hands on those email addresses but using a little ingenuity and creativity will get you a long way…

Some tips…
  1. Keep an open mind; many famous actors are interested in a character that is unlike anything they've played before.
  2. Start with named actors who live local to the production –they are more likely to want to be involved. Do a web search.
  3. Timing is also crucial -far enough into pre-production that your project has solid foundations and momentum to be considered seriously, yet flexible enough for to fit in with their prior commitments (which if higher paid will obviously take precedent).
  4. A role that only requires a couple of days filming rather than a long commitment is not only appealing but often more feasible.
  5. First impressions really do count, gently does it, keep it brief, don’t be too pushy and don’t ever bombard an actor you have never met with unsolicited phone calls or scripts.
  6. When possible approach via email. Keep it light and friendly.
  7. A fantastic script is of course what will ultimately attract your actor. If it also happens to have an element you know is of personal interest to them, make sure you emphasise that and why you think this role might appeal to them.
  8. On meeting the actor be fully prepared and able to answer any questions, covering every aspect with clarity and honesty.
  9. Although you may have approached them directly you will likely be dealing with their agent to discuss all the finer points such as fees, contracts etc (more to follow in the next blog).
  10. It is imperative to develop and maintain a professional relationship and communication is absolutely essential. Ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible both on and off set, foresee and anticipate their needs or any possible concerns.

Above: Brian Capron and Sinéad Ferguson

In Ambleton Delight we had the pleasure of working with Brian Capron, a veteran actor of several television series and films –most notably as psychopath Richard Hillman on Coronation Street (check out a great promo he did below!). We approached him via his events company email address, he expressed interest, we gave him a copy of the script, met him for coffee and the rest is history.

If it is your first time dealing with an experienced professional actor such as Brian, see this as a great chance to learn a great deal from someone who has a great wealth of knowledge and experience.

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