Every filmmaker wants polished actors for their films, but how do you achieve the level of acting you desire if you’re limited to local talent? How can you take ordinary individuals and make it work? The key is in careful casting and matching actors to roles where they’re best suited.
First, cast actors in roles where they can connect or relate with the character. Patricia Binkley, was a retired schoolteacher with no film experience. However, she’d been widowed for several decades, she knew what it was like to feel alone, and ultimately, she could connect with Fannie’s character in “Flowers for Fannie”. One of my personal favorite faith-based actors/characters is the older woman snacking in the background of a scene in “Flywheel”. She was just a relative who happened to be visiting at the time of the filming, but her sincere exclamations add so much to that scene.
Cast the newbies to the simpler roles and save the most challenging dramatic or comedic parts for your strongest actors. If you cast an inexperienced Sunday School teacher as a convicted felon, he’s unlikely to pull it off. He’d be better suited for the preacher or next door neighbor. However, an experienced actor, even if he is a Sunday School teacher, may be able to pull off the felon role more convincingly. Same goes for comedy. Comedic timing and delivery is a difficult skill.
Attitude and work ethic are sometimes more important than experience or even raw talent. Unless you just feel a particular passion for reaching out to divas, avoid casting difficult actors who can undermine and disrupt morale on the set. Regardless of how talented they may be, if they insult and stress out the rest of the cast, they’re not worth it. Not to mention, their self-indulgent behaviors can cost you money as they prolong shooting times.
Pray for each role and each and every actor. Casting a faith-based film is so much more than putting the most talented actors in the choicest roles. Instead, you must trust God to populate your cast with the right mix of people He has in mind, even if it doesn’t make sense to the rest of the world. That grandmother off the street or the teen with no experience may well surprise you with their sweet spirit and untapped talent that inspires the rest of the cast. On the other hand, casting that hurting young actor may be just the thing he needs to turn his life around. You may very well be used as an instrument in changing lives both on camera and off.
God has a history of casting the most unlikely characters to perform incredibly important roles. Cast actors who have a God-pleasing attitude then trust God to work through each and every actor to minister to the hearts of the other cast and crew members as well as the viewers of the finished product.