The Future Of Casting: Casting Directors Adapt Using Digital Tools

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In recent years, technology has enabled millions of people to start a business, make a living as a freelancer, and break into established industries. Castifi has been a part of this movement, allowing many individuals to get their start in entertainment and expand their casting operations overnight. Using the Castifi mobile app, many hobbyists and acting professionals have been able to get jobs and earn money on over 500 projects nationwide. From CBS's Seal TeamTNT's I am the Knight, and the Netflix Original Series Outer BanksCastifi is allowing casting directors and day players to make their mark and stand out amongst the crowd (even whilst being the crowd!). 

 

Empowering Independent Casting Directors

In Los Angeles and New York, the background casting business is currently dominated by a few well established companies. Their longevity and size has made it difficult for the industry to break away and rely on more modern forms of casting. While alternative options most certainly provide cost savings, efficiency, and a more pleasurable work experience, it's not always easy for capable casting directors to assure productions they can provide the same service and scale as these bigger organizations. This leaves many to wonder: 

If you look at the film and TV production industry as a whole, it is clear that embracing new technologies hasn’t been a priority. The main symptoms are the CYA (Covering Your Ass) syndrome, which effectively translates to: you can't get blamed for using an industry-standard but you can get blamed for trying something new that goes wrong; and the "why should I trust a single person vs. a 100-year-old organization with my project?" conundrum. 

The answer is thankfully simple. With Castifi technology in their hands' independent casting directors can compete at the highest level and maximize their connections in any given area, and when a casting director leverages technology to organize and streamline the hiring process, production companies receive the best possible outcome.

 

How To Compete At Scale

One argument that can be made for continuing to work with the traditional casting agencies is their deep database of talent, but let's face it, no competitor has a bigger database than Facebook (over 2.6 Billion users).

With Facebook, casting directors in every part of the world can reach pretty much everyone interested in/currently working as a background actor. Without the right tools, this wide pool of candidates would be overwhelming and unmanageable for anyone operating outside a structured organization, but with Castifi technology at their fingertips, casting directors can vet, onboard, verify, and schedule thousands of people for work within days.

Castifi securely stores information within the digital platform so the process only gets easier as casting directors fill more jobs. Fresh talent is easily added to the mix and quality talent remains easy to find.

But you don't have to just take our word for it! Hear straight from a casting director herself on how she started using Castifi and how it "changed everything".

 

Meet Taylor Woodell from TWC Cast & Recruit

One of our most successful partners, TW Cast & Recruit, is a small business run out of Taylor Woodell’s home in Wilmington, NC. When we first met Taylor and explained that Castifi was designed to solve for the inefficiencies related to the sourcing, hiring, and payment of freelancers in the entertainment industry, Taylor immediately understood how it could help her achieve her goal of offering a full-service solution to production companies who need background actors while maintaining a personal touch .

 

Taylor Woodell TWC Cast & Recruit
Taylor Woodell, Found & Owner of TW Cast & recruit

 

Before using the Castifi platform, Taylor built her business piece by piece, collecting a database of actors and running her operations with various, unconnected tools: spreadsheets, forms, emails, etc…But even with all her hard work, trying to compete with bigger Casting companies and their vast number of employees, roster of hundreds of casting directors, and their deep database of talent, she faced an uphill battle when it came to growing her operations to meet her goal and work with multiple productions. 

 

How Everything Changed

The change from her old system over to Castifi happened during two of the most hectic weeks that Taylor's business had yet to experience.

In a business where change is the nature of the job, it is often this change that is the number one barrier to adopting a new solution: You have to retrain yourself and your staff, which creates delays, errors, etc., but Taylor knew she would need to quickly adopt new tools if she wanted to continue achieving her goal and grow her business. 

That's when she turned to Castifi. 

And good thing she did! As we were going through the onboarding process she was hired as the background casting director for Hulu and Netflix projects shooting in North Carolina that both called for casting large crowds over multiple days.

Outer Banks (TV Series 2020– ) - IMDb
Taylor is the Background Casting Director Netflix's "Outer Banks" that aired in April 2020.

When asked to reflect on that time and about her experience using Castifi, her answer was surprising: “In the end, I think it’s what saved me”she said.

 
Searching For Talent
Taylor’s previous database was built on a system that used to crash daily. Now, her database of actors lives securely within the Castifi platform and can be searched from any device, allowing her to adjust to production changes in real-time. She's able to call in a stand-by for last minute cancellations, get digital approvals from the AD team, and send timely updates to talent all in one system. 

Sourcing And Hiring Talent

Taylor chooses to use Facebook to advertise open roles. In the past she'd have to sort through the Google Forms responses one by one. Now all she has to do is include the Castifi application link in the post and she is able to easily keep track of the all the thousands of people who typically sign up over a few days.

Social Media Comments

 

Before using Castifi, a lot of Taylor's time was spent reformatting and organizing information she received in various formats through unconnected emails that she would have to spend hours sifting through. The simple, structured design of Castifi's platform with dedicated fields for location, wardrobe/makeup, and payment information for each role allowed Taylor to manage every aspect of the project with considerable ease.

For example, generating measurement sheets used to be a manual process. Now, our reporting tool lets her do the same thing in a few seconds.

Taylor loved that it had the added benefit of helping the actors out by letting them know exactly where they needed to show up, what outfits to bring, and how they would get paid.

Finding Stand-ins
Using our search tools and detailed filter features she was able to filter her entire database for specific measurements, height and weight, hair color, and more.

Castifi Search Talent Tool
 
Working With Production

She utilized our Digital Gallery with directors and ADs when it came to making selects for each production day. A password-protected URL allowed them to see all roles, which updated in real-time as people were added to the project. Not only did this make the selection process faster and easier than with the traditional pdf files, but it also gave everyone a better idea of what the crowd would look like.

 

Taylor also made use of Castifi's built-in messaging feature to improve communication and handle all availability requests and booking confirmations through the app.  Requests for additional information can also be mass messaged in an instant, which saved Taylor from having to repeatedly type in individual phone numbers and send out hundreds of separate emails and texts when there was a last-minute update from the production team.

 

Castifi In-app messaging tool
 
Castifi Customer Support

It was very important to Taylor that her operations remain personable even while working on two major productions. On our end, we made sure that both Taylor and her actors received technical support when they needed it. It is our goal to make it feel as if there is another team member specifically there to help you through the project. The graph below shows our support ticket activity over time. You’ll see a spike right as production began, but overall, we never had more than 30 tickets per day (for more than 3,000 users!). Over 60% of tickets were addressed within 1 hour, and over 80% within 8 hours. 

 

Casting Customer Service Graph
 
Flexible, Adaptable Working

As she looked forward into the future of her casting business, being organized, readily available, and able to handle multiple projects at once was important to Taylor. Having an adaptable system that works across mobile and desktop gave Taylor the freedom to run and operate her business, her way, at a level and scale beyond the scope of just one person. 

 

Overall, Taylor believes that Castifi shortens her work time by 2 to 3 hours every day. When we asked how her long term goal of setting up a full-service solution for production companies was coming along, she told us that using Castifi has changed everything. Her timeline went from 2 years to 6 months!

 

Castifi Product Image at coffee shopThe Castifi app provides each user with their specific job details

 

The Future Of Background Casting

We believe that our unique model is a major win for independent casting directors worldwide. Here's why:

  • Casting directors can do more in less time and offer payroll services for Background Actors
  • The barrier to entry is lower for non-actors, increasing the size of the talent pool casting directors can pull from
  • Communication and collaboration between casting directors and productions are in real-time 
  • Actors gets a better experience, real-time updates, and all pertinent information on their mobile device allowing them adjust their schedules accordingly 
  • Productions get a boutique experience for their production with the added comfort that the casting director will be around to come to set at any time in case of any issues

However, it is no longer possible to talk about the future of the industry without addressing the current state of our world today. The film industry has been greatly affected by Covid-19, both union and non-union actors especially. While guidelines will vary state by state, we anticipate that most productions will reduce the number of overall talent on set for at least the next six months to one year.  This means large scenes will be minimized and less jobs overall will be available for a temporary period. Having said that, we are enthusiastic that following these next twelve months and beyond we will begin to see the number of job opportunities rise back to pre-coronavirus levels. 

About Castifi

By focusing on developing a great product and by making key partnerships with casting directors who have a proven track record, Castifi is effectively changing the way background casting will be done worldwide. 

With over 80,000 actors on our platform nationwide, Castifi provided over 15,000 jobs to background actors in 2019, our network of both actors and casting directors continues to grow weekly. 

But background casting isn't all we do. Castifi is a production management platform that has a suite of technology tools designed to help production, accounting, and casting professionals streamline their day to day operations, no matter the scale of the project.

If you're a producer, feel free Request a Demo to learn more about how you can shave hours off of your current workflows. If you're an actor who hasn't registered, register now for free.

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