A very close friend of mine, who is currently doing his Masters in Media, abroad, called me yesterday late night, and asked me some tips to recruit a girl for his first ever short.
I must tell you his script was good. But it was going to be a dumb film. I mean literally speaking, people are not going to speak. The entire film is going to be through expressions, I then told him to get a girl with expressive eyes, to which he said, he kept auditions but none was upto to his expectations.
I then asked him, whether he is paying the actors, and he exclaimed, “Anna are you kidding, this is a short film”
Very recently during one of my experience as an Executive Producer, there were a tussle between a co-actor and myself. He was not satisfied with the “small pay” that has been given, since, his partner in the film, a girl, performing a small similar role had to be given a ‘significant’ sum. He shouted at me saying, ‘aambalaigna ungaluku elakarama pocha’!The scene there, as I recall now, was surreal, since here is an industry who is hellbent on women. Well, if you are an actor, a woman, and shrewed enough, you can make a sizable amount of money every month.
Coming back again, the problem is real even now. but not as severe as it used to be, since, there are more women venturing into acting and it all drops down to how effectively you get one, when I say effective, it means time saved and quality ensured.
I have seen Aspiring directors crying out, saying we dropped a particular project because of no female lead. I used to sympathize in the beginning, but now I can say, if you give such a reason, then it means 2 things. 1. You are not well connected enough and 2. You are not determined enough.
I say this confidently because time and again, I am seeing aspiring filmmakers getting quality female actors in less time and money.
How do they do it?
Case 1 : Assume you have no budget, literally funds only for equipments and stuff, but still you need a girl, what will you do? You rely on friends, but with friends, there are severe restrictions, one such being, you have to tune the character of the subject to the real character of the actor. Another one, dont have big expectations, they are not actors, but when their real character is what it is going to be seen, then you are putting them in the comfort zone and who knows, you might discover magic. The innocence would work.
Case 2: Assume you have a budget for the female lead, in the range of 2k-5k, how to go about it?
First in this budget, you can get an aspiring female actor with fitting looks and who knows the basics in acting. but you got to be spending some quality time in front of your desktop. Make a thorough research. The research is going to be two ways. one, see whether you friends of friends’ short film has a girl you expect. Two, Youtube. Research short films in youtube, start from popular youtube channels that host short films, moviebuff for example. I am sure, with a keen eye, you will easily arrive at a fitting girl, approach the particular director of the film through facebook, and then target the actor. I am sure that most of you would have adopted similar approaches but probably where I think you would miss is how you approach the particular female lead. Female actors, might not know who you are. You have to establish authenticity, then show them the promise. These actors might expect decent money and popularity. You have to talk their language to get them on board.
Case 3: When you have a good budget, then you can get quality established female actors, whose presence itself can promote your film. A good example could be Director Sarjun’s Lakshmi and Maa, which had popular internet stars in the lead.
I am sure most of you would fall in the case 2 category and one of the many mistakes that you commit, would be having an actor who doesn’t know to act. Keep this in mind, whatever category, you are in, rehearsal is must. In rehearsals, the actors will come to know how professional the team is in and accordingly they will give their performance.
Last but not least, when it comes to payment, you should have someone else to talk. Let the director tackle the creative end of things. For all tough things like payment, get some innocent friend to act as an executive producer.