Casting Actors For Low Budget Films – Part 1

By Danny F. Santos (doddleNEWS)

In this series of posts, we’ll be talking about casting for your film. There are many ways to find actors for your film but not all of them will be available to you, and that mostly has to do with money. But like everything else, money is a double-edged sword.

Casting a Lead Role for a Larger Budget Film

Many times a larger budget film will come with an actor attached to it and there’s almost nothing you can do about that. This is the actor the studio wants in the lead role and you will have to make due with what you have. There are always exceptions to the rule, off the top of my head I’m thinking of Salma Hayek in Desperado. The studio wanted a blonde caucasian for the part, while Robert Rodriguez wanted Hayek. He used footage from From Dusk till Dawn to convince them otherwise.

For the most part, you’re stuck with this actor who may or may not be the right person in your mind for the role. Your job is to make them the right person for the role. No one said this was going to be easy.

Now for the lower budget films.


The more you network, the more friends and colleagues you’ll have as a resource. Sometimes they’ll come across actors who they’ve just worked with and have nothing but praise for. The best part of going this way is that you already have the opinion of someone you trust vouching for the actor.

Whether a working relationship between this actor and you will work is another question entirely, but you’ll have a good reference to their quality of work and professionalism.

Don’t Cast Your Friends

You’ve heard this a million times already, but I just want to stress this point, Don’t. Cast. Friends. Especially your girlfriend in the romantic role. They maybe the apple of your eye but they probably can’t act. If your friends have never worked as an actor before, they may not even realize the grueling work that goes into it and if you’re directing them, you could end up hating each other.

Now that we have that out of the way…

Cast Your Friends

I’ve met wonderful actors on set who have become very good friends of mine. I love working with them because we have a great professional relationship and are able to communicate rapidly with each other. When I cast them, I try to make sure that they’re right for the role but having them on set is always an added pleasure.

Again, money is a double-edged sword in filmmaking. The more you have, the less in charge of the shoot (and who you can cast) you are so as to appease the investors. Try not to be too stubborn about your choices. Remember, it may be your movie but it’s their money investing in it so work with them, not against them.

If you have any questions or comments, leave them below!

About Danny Santos

Freelance writer, filmmaker, actor, musician, and visual artist. Writing online professionally for 4-plus years and has produced and performed in over a dozen films and webseries. He has also been everything from a social media consultant to managing a JUNO award winning musician.

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