A Letter From Our CEO – Now, Community Matters More Than Ever (COVID – 19)

Read Here

Filmmaking / Directing : Casting your friends as Actors in your Movie by Joseph Quiles

Joseph Quiles

Casting your friends as Actors in your Movie

what would you say to someone who wanted to use there friends as actors in there first film? The biggest problem I'm having is that I'm using my so called friends in my first film and half the time there not showing up or there just trying to do reshoots on short scenes and making them into 3 day or week shoot?

Dave McCrea

Are you paying them? In my experience, if you don't pay actors, they will show up on set when they feel like it and they will flake, for the most part. If you're paying them just a little, they will surprise you with their professionalism. It's amazing how quick people go from flake to pro if you pay them $100/day

David Chai

Always work with professional actors. if they happen to be your friends then great. That means they are serious about making a career, have been to acting school, have been on shoots before, will learn their lines, and most importantly can actually act. After all, would you use someone who never operated a camera before to be your DP? They could be a one in a million genius, but more likely, they'll be pretty awful. If you are serious about being a filmmaker then you will cast the best actor for the role, not your friend because it's convenient. Post a casting and get qualified talent. And pay them at least $100 a day. It will save you a lot of headaches.

Stephen Mitchell

I used friends in many of my films including my first one in Paris. Always, they were as good if not better than the 'real' actors simply because they were bigger-than-life characters in real life. They showed up on time and did the job because they were real friends and not just people I knew who were doing me a favor.

Doug Nelson

Basically - don't do it for all the reasons stated above (and a few others.)

Jason Levy

I agree with David. I used friends in my films before. They have no interest in the art and if they do it goes away after all the long hours. Definitely go with people who are serious about the craft, It's not worth it otherwise.

Stephen Mitchell

I guess it depends on who your friends are. Can you tell which are actors and which are friends in this reel from my first film though it is in French? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHUsoYUqEl8

Rick Meyer

John Cassavetes did this quite succesfully.

Doug Nelson

Rick - sure John did it - but can you or Joseph (the guy that ask the question) count on you're being able to do it? It's just not advisable.

Rick Meyer

It depends mostly on who his friends are. I was raised in the theatre and regularly worked with friends throughout my life. If his friends are actors, then it certainly works.

Stephen Mitchell

My personal experience with this has been nothing but good but you need to ask yourself why are you using friends--because they are there and you need live bodies or because they are interesting characters who will enrich and enhance your film? My reason to use friends is the latter...

Shrirang Nargund

ask if they are serious about your venture or just having fun... filmmaking is a serious business where fun should be within the frame...

Rick James

Friends are nice, but if they are not serious and don't have the passion for your work as you do, you are heading for a trainwreck. I try to never use friends unless they are behind the camera. In front of the camera is the best way to lose them, because they are your friends they don't take you serious and when you put the hammer down, they're gone. Getting untrained, undisciplined friends to act in a movie is like herding cats and when you get them there they're pissed. If you are really serious about your production, always seek professional help. Go to an acting school or theater and scout prospects. Remember this is your baby and you will be judged accordingly and no one wants to hear the excuses for it's failure because it's all on you. If you want respect in the business you have to expect it, your production must run like a well tuned Swiss watch, not a frat house.

Rick James

Oh I did forget, there is an exception to this rule; if you are doing a really crazy comedy like Scary Movie type stuff, then crazy behavior is a part of the deal. It shows in the takes and the rewards are worth it.

Rick Meyer

again, it depends upon who your friends are

Doug Nelson

Rick – I have friends, who are professional actors, voice over artists and casting directors. Most, but not all, are retired. We help each other if and when we can but I certainly will not “hire” them to work on my films nor do they “hire” me to produce audition reels for them (I’ve shot a couple for free.) My point is that I value my friendships above all. My friends and I think of ourselves as the training wheels designed to keep new, young folk upright as they begin their career forays.

D Marcus

To me there are two key statements in your question, Joseph; "my so called friends" and "half the time there not showing up". No. Never cast "so-called" friends in you movie. If you have friends who are as dedicated to your projects are you are, then cast them. They will show up.

Rick James

I understand Doug and if I came on heavy, I didn't mean it. I have a strong passion for the business and the art of filmmaking and perhaps I can be like a mother bear defending her cub. I do use my friends in my projects, but I also understand their limits and I've learned unless they are actors, put them behind the camera. There are two things I don't like to do, waste time on the set and too many takes, because low budget or not, every minute is costing money.

Rick Meyer

Hiring friends worked very well for me because the friends were working professionals in the disciplines I brought them in for. That does mitigate the concerns some have mentioned.

Doug Nelson

I'm glad it worked out for you Rick but I'll stick with my policy of never hiring or lending money to friends. They're to valuable to be treated that way.

Rick Meyer

I would much rather work with a professional who has been my friend for years or decades and whose work I know and respect than a stranger. I have been bitten by that too many times.

D Marcus

Very limiting, Rick. But glad to hear that works for you.

Shane M Wheeler

Take into account your budget, resources, and goals. If the idea is to get the first film done, learn how it works, improve from there, feel free to use friends, but if you're looking to get something more serious, try a casting call. There are a lot of actors willing to work for free/little, especially if you provide food on set. If your friends are doing it out of obligation, rather than wanting the exposure/practice/etc., you're wasting your friend's time and squandering an opportunity for someone who does want the role. I've had actors flake and had friends fill in (do what you have to to finish the movie, always), but I do try to use actors whenever possible. $100 a day is not always affordable, especially if it's a low budget, first time film. That being said, I always establish a contract wherein, should the film make money, everyone receives a cut. It's respectful and fair should your film make money, that those who helped make it happen should get some of the reward.

Philip T Brewster

Drop them. Sorry, but there it is. Great that you're thinking of them but think of it as a business. No one holds down a job that pays money with that level of reliability. Plus unless your friends are actors I've heard it’s a bad ideal from the start.

Sandra Weston

Are you kidding? It's your first film but please stop and read some books because casting is really important. You can cast aspiring actors from craigslist. They may not be great actors but at least they want a clip for their demo reel so they are more likely to show up, also order pizza, it helps.

Other topics in Filmmaking / Directing:

register for stage 32 Register / Log In