Tidying up, I came across a text file I was updating while signed up for a couple of services that sent out casting calls for adverts and short films. This was a couple of years ago. Some of the descriptions of the actors required were bizarre or, occasionally, delightful. So here are some of the most interesting.
I found it interesting how specific some of these descriptions were. Which is fair enough if you’re casting for an advert that’s already planned in detail, but it does at first seem a bit judgemental:
YOUNG FEMALE MODEL: dark or brunette with a great body as she will be modeling kaftans between 20 to 30 years old. We do not need flat chested girls, and want very natural girls with good hair, great bodies and long legs, and photographic experience. Platinum blonde would also be great. Good models please.
Sometimes the descriptions show some interesting blanket opinions. For example, what does a female designer look like?
WOMAN: in her 30s. She’s a designer,so a bit trendy/eccentric in her appearance.
Like every designer I know, uncanny!
This manages to be both really specific but also leaves me unable to picture what the woman looks like:
WOMAN: in her 20s, a bit of a geek (but not in a trendy way). The kind of women that work REALLY hard. Bit of a jobs worth. NOT modelly at all….interesting looking…. Of coursethey should be well-groomed, good skin, teeth, hair - all the usual!!!
I quite like the following two descriptions. I feel like I have some sense of who the characters are, and the blurbs don’t come across as if written by someone catty:
SON - 8 to 10 - always getting into scrapes. Looks like a bit of a rascal. Mischievous. he has appeal and is a really natural actor the sort of lad you would forgive if he said sorry and smiled
DAUGHTER - 14 to 16 - wears braces. Beautiful weird type - Is a bit on the emo side of the fence She’s in school uniform which she’s customised slightly to give her some individuality. Her boyfriend’s an emo - Faris from horrors?
Sometimes the descriptions were very bizarre:
Boys and girls, 6-10, for a commercial. Must be able to manipulate eyebrows.
What on Earth were they doing?!
But then a few months later I’d realise exactly what advert they were casting:
Occasionally the descriptions were a little ambiguous… this leaves me wondering what these poor women will be required to support on their strong faces:
Female dancers, or ex dancers, trained in Ballet/contemporary. Must be flexible with strong faces.
Finally, two examples of casting calls for adverts that are so literal as to be almost unbelievable. First, for a stills campaign for “Love Food, Hate Waste” (whose website appears to have since broken):
This is a government campaign, encouraging people not to waste food. We are looking to cast a wide of range of people that look like certain foods! Please be VERY selective with your suggestions & clearly state which food you feel the individual resembles, thanks. Feel free to suggest friends, neighbours, etc - no experience is required…….
Overall brief: The people we’re looking to cast are everyday family people of varying shapes and sizes. They’ll be likeable in appearance and the viewer will ‘warm’ to them. They won’t be weird looking or scary. It’s essential that they don’t look too old, haggard or unhealthy. However, being slightly overweight is ok, due to the nature of the shapes and as long as they’ve got a healthy look/feel. Age 16-50yrs.
Potato execution - MAN: aged between 40-55, balding with a rounded head and face that resemble the shape of a potato. He will have the appearance of a healthy, likeable, everyday middle-aged man. With no hint of weirdness, or distracting features apart from maybe a few freckles or moles resembling the texture of a potato. (Test shot completed).
Apple execution - PERSON with rounded features and big rosy red cheeks (they could be male or female - a farmer’s wife perhaps). Their hair could be ‘bob’ shaped to resemble the shape of an apple.
Lamb execution - MALE aged between 25-40 with lots of curly hair, preferably blonde and of course, large bushy sideburns.
Fish execution - PERSON: male or female, with prominent eyes and pouty lips, with flicked out hair to look like the fins of a fish. For some reason we envisage this as a slightly posh looking woman.
Pasta execution - PERSON: male or female, with mid-length, corkscrew style hair to resemble ‘Fusilli’ pasta. Ideally should be blonde or light coloured hair.
There were a lot more of those. I found them hilarious, both the preciseness of some of the descriptions and the entire idea. But, having just looked for the results, I think that maybe it was actually quite a nice idea:
Here’s a similarly literal example, this time for Real Crisps:
Role: Female - 20’s
Description: Sea Salt and Black Pepper
Female - 20’s expressive
Role: Male 30’s (Male)
Description: Jalapeno Pepper
Male 30’s - Expressive eyes to communicate a taste explosion
Role: Blonde woman (Female)
Description: Sweet Chilli
Blonde woman - late 20’s expressive
Role: Male, porky (Male)
Description: Ham and English Mustard
Male, porky - think Friar Tuck!
Much less to go on there. It feels a little half-hearted. And, assuming these are the results, I don’t think it works as well for packets of crisps as those government information adverts:
I somehow feel I’m supposed to identify even more closely with these wacky characters when they’re on a packet of food I’ve bought and will spend time eating. They put me off.
Anyway, I’m drifting off the topic and that’s all the casting calls I made a note of. In a few months of receiving these emails I don’t think I ever read one that I could apply for. But it’s probably just as well.