Land Big Name Talent For Your Indie Film: How to Prepare for a Key Actor Meeting and Nail It

Hosted by Piotr Szkopiak

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Piotr Szkopiak

Webinar hosted by: Piotr Szkopiak

Director (Festival favorite THE LAST WITNESS with Alex Pettyfer, SMALL TIME OBSESSION, CASUALTY, EASTENDERS)

Piotr Szkopiak is an experienced director whose latest film THE LAST WITNESS starring Alex Pettyfer (I AM NUMBER FOUR) was released in cinemas nationwide in Poland on 156 screens and in theaters and on digital and DVD in the UK and US. The film also won 33 awards and was selected to screen at film festivals around the world, including in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Toronto & Sydney. His first feature film, SMALL TIME OBSESSION was released theatrically in the UK with both Variety and The Guardian describing him as “a director to watch”. Piotr has also directed countless episodes of television, including episodes of the BBC series CASUALTY, FATHER BROWN, DOCTORS, EASTENDERS, and SHAKESPEARE & HATHAWAY-PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS. Through his career, Piotr has found success in attaching in-demand actors like Alex Pettyfer and is prepared to share his strategies and techniques exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Full Bio »

Webinar Summary

There is A LOT that goes into making a film. Countless roles, countless facets, countless obstacles. And while all aspects are important and necessary to put together a successful film, there are few components more crucial than casting. The cast is not only the key component in delivering your screenplay to an audience but it also determines whether or not you actually get your film made. Funding is often contingent on casting and on recognizable talent being attached, as is distribution deals which will allow your film to ultimately be seen. Actors have a huge influence on how the finished film will be received so how do you approach them and secure their services?

Many independent filmmakers quickly write off the idea of including name talent in their project, believing it’s a fool’s errand or something you can’t actually accomplish without deep pockets and deeper connections. This isn’t necessarily true, though. What is essential is a complete understanding of how the casting system works and how to successfully navigate it as an independent filmmaker. Perhaps the most important aspect of this process is the actor meeting, where you pitch your film and convince the actor or their reps to join the project. So much hinges on this meeting, and nailing it can make all the difference. So how exactly can you pitch a bigger actor to star in your project? With so many film projects to choose from, why should they choose yours?

Piotr Szkopiak is an experienced director whose latest film THE LAST WITNESS starring Alex Pettyfer (I AM NUMBER FOUR) was released in cinemas nationwide in Poland on 156 screens and in theaters and on digital and DVD in the UK and US. The film also won 33 awards and was selected to screen at film festivals around the world, including in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Toronto & Sydney. His first feature film, SMALL TIME OBSESSION was released theatrically in the UK with both Variety and The Guardian describing him as “a director to watch”. Piotr has also directed countless episodes of television, including episodes of the BBC series CASUALTY, FATHER BROWN, DOCTORS, EASTENDERS, and SHAKESPEARE & HATHAWAY-PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS. Through his career, Piotr has found success in attaching in-demand actors like Alex Pettyfer and is prepared to share his strategies and techniques exclusively with the Stage 32 community.

Piotr will teach you how to successfully navigate and execute a key actor meeting in order to bring on a high level actor for your independent project. He will begin by going over how to build your wish list of the actors you’d like for your film, including how to choose who should go on the list, how to navigate creative vs. business choices, setting expectations early and being realistic, and dealing with budget. He will then explain how to approach your desired actor. He’ll explain how to navigate the catch 22 of attaching actors, which is the fact that you need money to go to actors, but you need actors to get money. He’ll talk about when in the process of your project to make contact, who to contact first and how, and how best to work with agents. Piotr will delve into how best to prep for the actor meeting. He’ll talk about the difference between a video conference meeting and a face-to-face one and go over what you should know going in. He’ll walk you through the research you should do ahead of time and where you should choose to meet and why. He’ll also give you a rundown of what your appearance should be for a good first impression and what the proper etiquette is. He’ll give you an idea of the key questions to ask your actor and how best to communicate your vision and prepare your look book to make a convincing case. Piotr will also give you tips of what to do if you’re facing a creative disconnect and how to overcome it. He’ll also go over how best to take criticism if it comes up during the meeting and how to ultimately know if you found the right fit for your actor. He will next teach you best practices for the meeting follow up, including the next steps to take care of right after the meeting, what the do’s and don’ts are, and how to deal with production delays that may come up in the process. Finally, Piotr will go through a case study of his own film THE LAST WITNESS and explain how he ultimately landed the actors Alex Pettyfer and Robert Wieckiewicz to play his lead roles. He’ll discuss the early development of the film, how he attached his producer, and when the key actors became part of the plan. Piotr will even share the look book he created to convince the actors to join. Key actor meetings are scary things, but Piotr will give you the tools you need to navigate them with more confidence and develop the skills to nab your dream actor.

 

"In my experience the choice of lead actors for your film is hugely important and in most cases the difference between whether your film is made or not. For the smaller independent production, this can not only feel daunting and nigh on impossible as this is what I felt myself but I am proof that it is possible. I'm excited to share how I managed to secure the actors for my feature film in the hope it can help you to nail down the perfect actor for your own project."

-Piotr Szkopiak

What You'll Learn

  • Choosing the "Wish List" of Actors for your Film
    • Who should go on the list?
    • How to navigate creative vs. business choices
    • Setting expectations early and being realistic
    • Budget
  • Approaching the Actor
    • The catch-22 in attaching actors
    • When you should make contact first
    • Who to contact first and how
    • Agents
  • Prep for the Meeting
    • Video conference or face-to-face?
    • Things To know going in
    • What research should you do?
    • Where do you choose to meet and why?
  • Nailing the Meeting
    • Appearance and first impressions
    • Proper etiquette
    • Key questions to ask Your actor
    • Communicating your vision
    • Presenting an effective look book
    • Overcoming potential creative disconnect
    • How to take criticism
    • When do you know the fit is right?
  • The Follow Up
    • Next steps after the meeting
    • Do’s and don’ts
    • How to deal with production delays
  • Case Study: THE LAST WITNESS
    • Early development
    • Producer attachment
    • When key actors became part of the plan
    • Piotr’s look book
    • Case Study: Alex Pettyfer (Signed to play the Lead Role)
    • Case Study: Robert Więckiewicz (Signed to play The Last Witness)
  • Q&A with Piotr

About Your Instructor

Piotr Szkopiak is an experienced director whose latest film THE LAST WITNESS starring Alex Pettyfer (I AM NUMBER FOUR) was released in cinemas nationwide in Poland on 156 screens and in theaters and on digital and DVD in the UK and US. The film also won 33 awards and was selected to screen at film festivals around the world, including in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Toronto & Sydney. His first feature film, SMALL TIME OBSESSION was released theatrically in the UK with both Variety and The Guardian describing him as “a director to watch”. Piotr has also directed countless episodes of television, including episodes of the BBC series CASUALTY, FATHER BROWN, DOCTORS, EASTENDERS, and SHAKESPEARE & HATHAWAY-PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS. Through his career, Piotr has found success in attaching in-demand actors like Alex Pettyfer and is prepared to share his strategies and techniques exclusively with the Stage 32 community.

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