Tips for casting the lead role for your feature film

Tips for casting the lead role for your feature film

Casting a lead role for your film can be a challenging and time-consuming process. It's important to take your time and be patient, especially if you're not familiar with the casting process. You'll benefit from hiring someone who has experience working on projects like yours, but you don't have to hire them right away. Instead, here are some tips that should help you find the right person for the job:

Before you hire a casting director, decide how much involvement you want in the casting process

Before you hire a casting director, decide how much involvement you want in the casting process. The less you want to be involved in the casting process, the more money it will cost. If you're a novice director and don't have much experience with actors, then hiring a full-service casting director is probably going to be your best bet.

If your budget is limited and/or if there are other issues that need attention before shooting can begin (like location scouting), then using an agency might be a better option for you. Agencies usually have access to a large database of talent and can also provide recommendations based on your specific needs. You'll have someone else handling the auditions process while you do other things, making your pre-production move faster!

If you're more experienced with actors and/or have a very small cast along with a pretty tight budget, then hiring a casting agency might be a bit overkill and you might get along just fine with a casting director or doing it yourself.

Be Prepared to Articulate Everything You Need in a Role

If you’re going to cast a role, it’s important that you are prepared to answer questions about your character and what makes them tick. You should also know how the film will be produced and where it will be filmed. This can help any questions that actors, agents and managers might have while assuaging any fears that they might have about working for someone who has no idea what they’re doing.

When answering questions about the characters or the script, it is okay if there is some difference between what the producers want from you and what they actually want from their actors; however, if there are obvious gaps in communication between their side of things (i.e., producers) and yours (i.e., actors), then this may not work out so well because people won't feel comfortable doing their job properly during shooting due to this lack of trust between all parties involved.

Cast Actors You're Familiar With

Casting actors you are familiar with can be a great way to go. You'll have more control over the process and the final product, which will likely be better. If you don't know what it takes for an actor to deliver their best performance, then it's time for some research!

If you're casting actors who are supposed to have any sort of relationship, casting those who are familiar with one another makes sense because they already have an established relationship that allows them to work together easily. In Hollywood, most A-list actors know each other beforehand and you can totally feel it on the big screen. No matter the scale of the production, it's easier for actors to connect on-screen since they've worked together before (and hopefully had fun doing so). This means less time spent in rehearsals getting everyone to know each other and more time focusing on each other's characters' back stories and personalities—which saves money and makes production days go much faster!

Be Clear About What You Want

Now that you (hopefully) have a casting director, it's time to figure out what you want from this process.

Here are some important questions to keep in mind:

  • What do I want? The answer is simple: I want my film to be as good as possible. That can mean many different things depending on a plethora of factors, but at the end of the day all we care about is whether or not we were able to bring something unique into our world that people will enjoy watching. If an actor doesn't get this, then they won't be willing or able to commit themselves fully onto set—and ultimately won't do justice for either side (actor/director).
  • How do I know if my actor has what it takes? This question arises because there aren't any clear guidelines for judging acting ability aside from experience and training; however, there are certain qualities that can help determine whether someone has potential in this area: honesty, naturalism, believability...etcetera! These qualities don't necessarily come naturally but require practice over time so they become second nature when working with others under pressure situations such as those found during filming projects involving actors who haven't been trained professionally before being casted into roles requiring them lead performances."

Use Online Self-Tapes to Speed Up the Audition Process

Online self-tapes are a great way to get your actor's skills up to speed. Using self-tapes will help you get an idea of what the actor can do, and it also helps them practice their craft. Instead of renting a physical place and having in-person auditions (which can be very time and money consuming), ask for self-tapes: A recorded version of their take for the audition that actors usually record on their own. In production, actors will have the ability to perfect and hone their performances with every take, so why shouldn’t they be able to do it also during their auditions?

When using online self-tapes for auditioning actors, make sure that all feedback is given with kindness and respect towards the person receiving it. This will improve both relationships as well as production quality later down the road!

To organize and handle all the self-tapes submissions, it’s better to use dedicated platforms like CastingHub or any file storage and sharing app like WeTransfer, Google Drive or Dropbox. The more time you can save organizing all the self-tapes, the more time you’ll be spending actually choosing your actors!

Take Time Over the Casting Process

Casting is an important part of the filmmaking process. It's difficult, time-consuming, and can take months or even years to find the right actors for your project. You need to spend time on casting because you want your film to be as good as possible; if you don't spend enough time on it, then the quality of the final product will suffer.

The best thing about casting is that once someone has been cast in a role (assuming they agree), it continues even after production ends: there are many things that go into making a movie happen—and everything from costumes to props has its own specific needs—and all of these things require adjustments over time depending on who'll be wearing them at any given moment during shooting day one through 125 (or whatever number we end up using).

Be Open to Surprises

You may find a great actor you didn't know about, or discover a new talent who will be perfect for the role. Additionally, try not to be too attached to your initial choices in casting—it's likely that some people who don't initially seem like good fits for their parts are just as good of performers when given time, attention and guidance from you and your team. Also, scheduling conflicts happen all the time and you might have to end up shooting with your second choice.

Don't forget about diversity! If there are any underrepresented groups in your cast (e.g., women or LGBTQIA+ individuals), make sure they're represented appropriately on-set and off-set so that everyone feels comfortable being themselves around each other during filming!

As an independent filmmaker, it is important to trust your casting director and let them do their job.

As an independent filmmaker, it is important to trust your casting director and let them do their job. Your casting director will have a great understanding of the character they are looking for and can bring in the right person for the role.

It is also important to provide information about your film and the characters themselves, but don’t get too obsessed with the process yourself either—let the professionals do what they do best!


We hope you’ve enjoyed this guide to casting the lead character for your feature film. It can be a long and sometimes frustrating process, but the right person for the right role is out there if you keep looking. We should also note that some of these tips are specific to casting directors; if you don’t have one on staff, we recommend using an online audition platform with a built-in database, where actors and actresses can upload their own self-tapes like CastingHub. Platforms like these will save time by streamlining communication between the production company, the director, the actors and talent agents who represent those actors.


Jane Horowitz

Jane Horowitz

Published November 15, 2022

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