Attaching Talent To Your Film or Series Project
Getting talent on board isn't easy but it's necessary. PLUS talent packaging tips and what to expect from Sundance.
Sundance started this week and while I’m not there in person I’ve been staying abreast of the happenings as I’m sure many of you have too. I also had a conversation with a Producer who is heading there for a film in competition and it was enlightening to hear his perspective - he had a film there in competition a few years ago and echoed what the press has been pretty adamant about which is don’t expect much on the acquisitions side of things this year as streamers and distributors pipelines are ‘full’ for all except the complete no-brainers. To which I reply… what else is new?
But let’s bring this back to the here and now - last week we talked about Prelude to Attaching Talent.
So the next step in the Path To Production process after you’ve done your R&D is to engage in actual outreach to talent reps. And this is where most people freeze in their tracks…. because let’s face it, when you don’t have the established network and contacts, it can be scary to reach out to agents and managers cold particularly when you’re trying to attach one of their clients to your unfunded film.
It took me a very long time to become comfortable with the process and now I do it so much and with such frequency, it’s become second nature. I’ve also along the way established trusted relationships that make it easier and frictionless.
Talent outreach is what we spend a lot of time talking about in FS Pro and represents a large part of my Consulting on projects so I realize what a big pain point it is. But if I could offer a few tips for those of you DIY’ing it, it would be this….
Lower your expectations in terms of who you think you can get attached to your film or series project. Remember how competitive it is for actors right now…they have their pick of projects and a lot will depend on WHO the director and producers are. Full Stop. They have to have faith in your body of work and want to collaborate with you.
Don’t immediately hit up the CAA agent and expect a response. Those actors are in the highest demand. Look for actors with managers or who are repped at a smaller agency and target those first.
Before you start outreach try really hard to have a conversation with a sales agent or distributor and run names with them (this is why I recommend going to markets like AFM in person and what I work on with my Film Market Consulting. I can’t recommend this enough - so many times (ok most of the time) the actors you think will move the needle with the marketplace won’t. I’ve had to do a lot of pivoting myself this week after settling on an actor hit list only to run it by my contacts and discover most of them have little to no value. ouch.
Start with email (we have sample outreach templates in the FS Pro Resource Hub) and follow up in 2-3 days if you haven’t heard back. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone if after a couple emails you’re just not getting through. Just be prepared to answer all these questions in rapid succession - who is directing? who is producing? Is it financed? when are you shooting? can you make an offer? (gulp).
Once you send over your materials and offer for consideration (sample offer templates in FS Pro if you need ‘em) make sure to put a deadline of 2-4 weeks on there so you’re not waiting indefinitely for an actor to read (which happens often!)
Mind you - these tips apply if you are targeting a finance plan that includes pre-sales but even if you’re making a feature on spec, if it’s anything over a few hundred grand in budget you’ll need to have some level of ‘names’ that elevate your film in the marketplace.
Nobody wants to be left with a $2 million (or more!) paperweight when you can’t place your completed film because the cast is ‘too small’ (which is probably the worst piece of feedback in history from distributors and makes you want to punch them :)
OK to wrap this up… at least for now… what questions do you have so far? Put them below in the comments and let’s start a discussion.
I hope you all have a fabulous weekend ahead and I’ll speak to you again soon!
To your success,