Actors. Use them.
I really don't need to say any more. The title says it all. But it's a blog so I have to... here goes.
Before you're accustomed to hiring actors you don't really see the value. Maybe you have some employees that are natural on camera or "Popular Stacey" can put a request on Facebook and get a handful of volunteers overnight. Let me tell you some reasons why that's not great.
First off, you don't really know how good someone is on camera until you have them on camera. People freeze up, they look into the lens, they forget their lines, they move their hands in a way that creates a weird shadow and you have to explain to them what they're doing wrong.
Then after an hour of telling them all the things NOT to do...
They look horribly unnatural...
because they're doing a very unnatural combination of things all at the same time!
Actors know there are a hundred reasons to shoot another take, most of which don't involve the actor. When real people (actors get annoyed when you say this because they're "real people" too) have to do the same thing 3 times in a row they start to get really self conscious - and it shows! Then they start to feel bad because everyone is waiting on them - and that shows too.
Real people are doing you a favor, so when something else pops up, the production normally suffers. If they're not doing a great job, you can't cut them from the video because you have to eat lunch with them and that's awkward.
Sometimes you think the CEO needs to be on camera. This one's tough because sometimes it's true. But you have to take the time to make sure they know what to expect. Are they used to having make-up applied by a stranger? Not likely. Are they planning to show up and finish in 10 minutes then get to another important meeting? Likely.
They'll understand that it's only worth doing if it's done right. What they probably don't understand is that they won't just show up and nail it... but working with the boss deserves its own blog. So, uh, I'll get to that later.
Actors are tools.
No, that's not meant to be funny or mean. In this professional world actors are trained to perform and complete certain tasks. We don't put actors in a green room because they're so special and too good to be around the other crew, it's because they have lines to practice or emotional states to be in and they need privacy to concentrate. Sometimes you'll see an actor being handed a bottle of water, wrapped in a napkin with a straw sticking out of the top. Why? Because normally that bottle was taken from an ice chest and is dripping wet. If water messes up the actor's make-up or gets onto their clothes then we all have to wait while wardrobe dries it out.
Another thing to consider is that since actor's don't work for you, they can't stop working for you. We've made several videos that have had to be altered 6 months or a year later because the employee featured, left, and not on good terms. And sometimes they didn't have the budget to reshoot, so the video died altogether.
Okay, so you're convinced, great!
Before you go start hiring actors left and right I have one more warning for you.
We own 12 cameras. We don't grab one randomly before a shoot. Some cameras are great for certain jobs and awful for others. We know exactly what each camera is capable of and useful for. If we're going to buy a new camera - ? Reviews are great, seeing stuff it's shot is even better but nothing can compare to getting out hands on it and actually testing it out ourselves, or Auditioning it first hand.
Some jobs it might be okay to cast from headshots or recommendations from agents. Some. Just some jobs. Definitely NOT all jobs or even most.
Casting is so important.
Yes, it costs more. Yes, it takes more time. Yes, it might even start some arguments. But don't think that just because you're hiring a professional actor, they'll be the right professional actor for this job.
This is yet another problem-solving adventure in the puzzle of production that gets us out of bed every day.