May 27th, 2013

Casting Call: In-House Talent vs. Hiring Actors

When it comes to creating a masterful piece, aside from the overall messaging and the actual script, hiring actors is of the utmost priority. There are several things to keep in mind when selecting the “face” of your company. The Frozen Fire team has outlined some key differentiators for four casting categories.

Quality of Delivery

In-House Talent Selection:

If you’re going the in-house route, the first thing you want to do is screen your ideal candidates for comfort in front of a camera.  This can easily be tested by setting up a sample script-read with a handheld camera or an iPhone. We would recommend you give the talent you have in mind a two to three sentence script, a few days to memorize it and then schedule a time to deliver those lines.  You will then be able to make an objective decision based on their on-screen delivery.

When you are evaluating the talent, think about the emotions you want the end viewer to evoke when watching the piece.  Do you want them to be smiling from ear to ear? Do you want them to take the video very seriously?  Gauge the potential cast members against that mental rubric to ensure you’re picking the right one.

Hiring Actors:

If you’re going the hiring-talent route, this will not be as much of an obstacle. Talent agencies will have a portfolio of seasoned actors for you to select from. It is guaranteed that the talent on these lists will all be comfortable in front of the camera.  You will, however, want to execute the second step listed above and make sure the talent (albeit hired) evokes the desired emotions.

Staff Turnover

In-House Talent Selection:

When you opt to use in-house talent for your video piece, one risk that you run is that the talent you select may turnover. No employer wants to pre-plan for an exit of their employee(s), but it is important to keep this in mind when selecting talent.  However, you may be casting for a particular role that an employee, currently employed or not, could fill due to the nature of the script.  If that’s the case, we would recommend you still measure that person’s on-screen delivery for optimal results.

Hiring Talent:

When hiring actors, you will not face this issue.  However, you run the risk of missing that something special that an in-house employee may bring to the set because of their innate passion for the company.  We’ll get more into that next.


In-House Talent Selection:

When you’re working with in-house talent, the level of authenticity cannot be matched. Employees, generally speaking, have a tremendous amount of pride for their company and being selected for a marketing piece elevates that pride. Additionally, the person’s experiences may lend itself to a more natural delivery and an extra (or positively unexpected ) pizzazz.

Hiring Talent:

Great actors can portray authenticity and they can do it well.  Our recommendation would be too narrow your talent search down to two or three and ask some unrelated viewers to watch the clips and tell you which one they think works for the company.  They will go into the viewing party assuming one person works for the company, and then work their best to identify the most authentic actor, the identified person should be cast.

Corporate Identity

In-House Talent Selection:

All organizations, big or small, have a corporate identity to uphold and sometimes you don’t have someone on your team that quite meets those standards, especially for an external audience. Let’s be real—we want attractive people selling our company–and if you want to avoid an unintentional beauty competition, this may be a challenge.

Hiring Talent:

Deciding to hire actors will afford you the opportunity to be very selective with the look and feel that you are going for.  The key in the selection process here is to put yourself in the shoes of your ideal customer and keep that person in mind when you are screening talent.  Are you targeting moms? Then you want to pick someone who comes across as nurturing. Are you targeting potential athletes? Then you want a buff-looking person.

At the end of the day, casting for your video is not an easy task.  If you have the capability, try to assemble a small task force to help you think through the best match for each role you have available.  Good outcomes come from creative brainstorming. Lastly, if you do decide to go the In House Talent Selection route, be sure to see our notes on considering a make up artist!

By Liz Johnston



Want to know more about video pricing. Check out our article here.

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