How Social Media Can Make or Break a Casting Decision
It’s no secret that employers often scope out the social media profiles of prospective employees, but did you know this also happens in TV and film casting? An increasing number of casting directors have started using social media to help them make decisions around who to cast and why. In fact, so complex are the factors affecting who casting directors hire that acting talent may account for only 7% of the reason why someone is cast in a role.
So while there may be more competition in getting cast in a TV show or movie, you can take solace in the fact that there are more social media platforms than ever before for you to reach casting directors.
First and foremost, social media is a powerful tool in constructing a personal brand. The persona you craft can be just as important as your past experience, talent reel, and agent. In fact, a social media presence has become so important that veteran casting director Mike Fenton said “if it came down to two professional actors, one of whom had great visibility in social media and one who was barely recognizable, we’d go with the one who could get the numbers.”
Which Platforms Work Best?
Just as musical acts such as Justin Bieber and First Aid Kit were discovered through YouTube, so too are future film and television stars. For example, Darren Criss, one of the stars of the Fox TV show “Glee” was discovered after he starred in a viral YouTube video in which he played the lead role in a Harry Potter musical.
And while everyone has probably heard about the “15 minutes of fame” concept, how about leaving your mark in six seconds? That’s how long performers have on short-form video sharing platform Vine. Despite the time constraint, many artists have gotten their break thanks to the platform. Andrew Bachelor, for example, is a comedian, actor, and performer who has more than 14.9 million followers on Vine. The success of his Vines led to him being signed with United Talent Agency, one of the largest talent agencies in the world. He has also landed recurring roles on such TV shows as “The Mindy Project” and “House of Lies.” Another popular Vine user, Logan Paul, has signed with Creative Artists Agency and has already scored a guest role in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Outside of video platforms, another social media site that is considered by casting directors is Twitter. For example, Mike Fenton considered social media clout when coming up with the secondary cast for the sequel to the 2013 made-for-TV hit, “Sharknado.” By giving cameos to people such as Perez Hilton and Kelly Osbourne, both of whom have more than four million Twitter followers, Fenton was able to tap into their social media reach and have them promote the movie in a more organic and self-serving manner. Hilton, in particular, wrote about the movie several times on his popular pop culture blog, including a post about how the sequel was one of the most talked about topics of all time on Twitter. In the case of Sharknado, social media was not only used by the casting director — the movie in its entirety relied on a torrent of social media virality to make it succeed.
From an actor’s perspective, Twitter is powerful because it allows you to connect directly with casting directors. Whether it’s promoting your most recent on-screen role or sending them the link to your reel, Twitter can be an excellent way for you to develop a following and a voice. Be wary, though. An industry survey conducted by Backstage showed that casting directors and industry professionals prefer to only be reached out to after you’ve met them in-person at least once. While sharing a simple link once in awhile may be acceptable, constantly bombarding a casting director is not recommended.
Speaking of connecting directly with casting directors and talent, LinkedIn can also be used in the industry. There are a number of smaller groups bringing together actors, producers, and casting directors. The most popular group was started by GlamFame, an online community for the movie industry, and has more than 1,500 members and hundreds of discussion topics.
Of course there can always be too much of a good thing. An overly telling and scandalous social media presence can backfire. For example, Randi Hiller, head of casting at Disney, said that any actor who has a controversial public image is unlikely to be cast in a Disney film.
Do you consider social media when hiring talent? If you’re a casting director tell us how you’ve used a social media platform to connect with actors and actresses.