Street Casting Advice with Maria Lysandrou
“Oh, amazing! I love what this brand stands for- it would be really cool to get involved!”
“Haha, listen love, if you wanted my phone number you could have just asked for it.”
“What’s the catch, do I have to pay anything?”
“Sure! Am I gonna be on TV?”
“Oh no, that’s very kind, but I’d be way too shy to do something like that”
“Yeah, why not? I actually have a friend who would be great for this too!”
…. are just a few common responses I receive when I’m working the streets, in the name of STREET CASTING of course.
What is it exactly?
So here at Mark Summers Casting, clients including Dove, BMW, N Power, Tresemme, FitBit, This Girl Can will contact us with a brief as to what they are looking for to best suit their vision for their next campaign.
90% of the time that I’m street casting, I’m required to find non-industry individuals (no actors, models, dancers or extras) who we refer to as ‘real people’. Upon receipt of the specific brief I head out to the various places where I think I will find the type we need.
So where might I find trendy ladies with really cool hair for Tresemme?- Shoreditch, Camden.
Where might I find lovely gents aged between 25-40 with a warm and welcoming look for Dove?- The city.
Pregnant ladies? I’ll head to a prenatal yoga class. Body building muscle men? I’ll make my way to one of the busiest and well renowned power lifting gyms in, or around London.
That’s what I LOVE so much about my job! Different places and different faces.
It’s not always plain sailing though, I must admit. Being caught in the rain is never fun. Having your battery die when you rely solely on your trusted device to take pictures of those gems you find is also never fun. What’s even worse is when your battery dies the very moment you look up to spot somebody absolutely PERFECT for the brief pass you by.
In that instance, of course, you chase them down the street, waving a flyer in the air, yelling “excuse me…” until you finally catch them and ask them to email over their details and some snapshots.
Add pic of streetcasting/interview set up
What I enjoy most about Street Casting is meeting such a diverse range of people and ultimately, what I am doing is complimenting them and offering them a really cool, exciting experience (out of the ordinary for non-actors) and opportunity.
Mindset & Attitude
Street casting is by no means sales, but the mentality of a salesman (well woman, in my case) is an exceedingly useful tool. I want to find as many amazing ‘real people’ as I possibly can. So I challenge myself; once I find 10 candidates suited to the brief, I’ll aim for 3 more, then 3 more, then 3 more, then…
Some days I’ll find over 20 wonderful women, perfect for the job, other days – I’ll find 10. It really does depend on how specific the brief is. Finding 20 women with luscious locks can be fairly easy, finding 20 redheads aged between 20 -30 becomes a harder task for example. The specifics I speak of may include; hair colour, size, heritage, height, shape, people with dogs, people into sports, people into yoga and many, many more variables.
When I first started Street Casting, mental preparation was key. Approaching members of the public on the street felt extremely bizarre at first. I remember street casting down Oxford Street on a chilly winter Saturday. I walked aimlessly for two hours, blocked by the initial fear of approaching a stranger. It was so disheartening having not found anybody.
I was racked with self-doubt: ‘Am I really bad at this? Did I just have a lucky streak last week? I cannot do this. I want to go home.’ This brings me to my next point, your mood. You have to be in a positive mood, otherwise it is pretty much impossible to approach people, and the chances are people won’t be receptive. After all, nobody wants to spare their time to speak to a negative Nigel or moody Margaret or … moody Maria!
I learnt on that Saturday that I had to SNAP OUT OF THE FEAR AND JUST GO FOR IT. You have to be confident. You have to be compassionate and always, always courteous. The worst someone can say is that they’re not interested. From my experience over the past year, only a mere 10 percent of people aren’t interested. Loads of people, however, are super enthusiastic and I love that!
Now Street Casting has become an adventure for me; seldom do I feel the fear I did when I first started.
Whilst some people are a pleasure to talk to, bubbly and delighted to have been spotted, others can be more reserved and shy. I totally get that. It’s not every day a girl bounces over and tells you that you’d be great for a commercial.
It’s all in the approach. Do I alter the way I approach certain people? Absolutely. It’s all about trying to gage the energy that the person you have approached is executing. Speaking from my experience I’d say that takes no more than 3 seconds…most of the time.
Some laughs, banter and a joke work with a cheeky chappy, but I certainly wouldn’t speak loudly or by any means be ‘too in your face’ if I sense somebody is slightly reserved. Those I think might be a little too young I always lead with ‘excuse me, random question but can I just ask your age? I’m street casting for…’
So yes, certainly a varied approach depending on whom you’re speaking to.
People have to trust you. That is crucial: building rapport is essential.
Taking an interest in that person is important. People are interesting. Undoubtedly you have to be a people person.
What happens after the initial approach?
After approaching, I explain what we’re looking for? And then what a casting will entail; I then answer any further questions, take a quick snapshot of the talent holding up a board or piece of paper containing their name, age, email address and phone number.
TRICKS OF THE TRADE:
-Comfortable shoes! You’re gonna be on your feet all day.
-Eyeballs. Look people in the eye, be sincere and be warm.
-Rain? Not ideal but fear not – you can always hit up a shopping centre.
-Target areas: as I mentioned above, you have to think carefully about whom you’re casting and where you’re likely to find them.
-Timing: work smart, mornings seem like a great idea at first but rush hour = ‘rush’. Unless I have a specific target like a gym class for instance, I prefer to head out around midday and catch the two hour lunch time frame- everyone is happier when they’re fed.
-Remain positive: be prepared for dry spells. On a weekday, after the busy lunch period is over everything seems to slow down…and…drag…until…after work. People aren’t as rushed as they are in the morning and some people may be even more mellowed after a post work pint. Between 4-7pm is a great time to street cast.
– Groups of people: it can be really beneficial to approach somebody in a group. Often friends are encouraging and who knows, there might even be two gems perfect for the brief within that group.
…so there we have it, a day in the life.
We meet people, quite possibly (well, hopefully) brighten up their day, provide them with an awesome opportunity to try something different and earn some money!
An adventure for me and an exciting new venture for the public! #streetcasting
As well as being an excellent street caster, Maria Lysandrou is an actress.
Check out what we’re up to on instagram @marksummers_mgmt, twitter @marksummerscast