On July 7, actor Aamir Khan announced a casting call on Twitter for his next production, directed by Advait Chandan. The production house was looking for a girl in the 12-17 age group who could sing.
Interested candidates were required to e-mail with a video recording and a letter of consent from a parent or guardian. Within an hour of Aamir’s tweet, his office received more than 3,000 e-mails with video clippings. The server crashed despite his office trying its best to download and back up the files.
There was a time when casting calls for films happened primarily by sounding out modelling agencies or theatre groups. Just as production houses big and small saw the scope of promoting their films through Twitter and Facebook, they realised these networks could be tapped for audition calls. This channel came in handy for small- and medium-budget films, both in Hindi and regional languages.
Last week, soon after Rana Daggubati and Akshay Kumar announced their co-production Poster Boyz , Rana posted a casting call. Their first announcement was for an actor who would befit a 60-year-old character, Jagdish.
“ Poster Boyz is a small-budget film with three principal characters. Our idea was to post casting calls for each of these characters on three consecutive days. The first call received such an overwhelming response that the office is still going through the applications received and shortlisting candidates. So we will announce the other two casting calls in subsequent weeks,” Rana says.
He points out that the social media, once considered an alternative channel to announce and promote films, has now emerged stronger. “At one go, we are able to reach the target audience — modelling agencies, theatre groups and film schools,” he adds.
In Telugu, directors Srinivas Avasarala and Sekhar Kammula and producer Dil Raju announced casting calls online for their projects Oohalu Gusagusalade, Life is Beautiful and Kerintha, respectively.It’s a deluge
Director Teja, who has primarily worked with new actors and technicians since 2001, has looked for unconventional ways to tap potential actors — pamphlets, FM radio and, later, through a dedicated website. He is still wary of announcing through Twitter and Facebook, for it brings in a deluge of applications.
“So far, I’ve introduced more than 1,000 people to the Telugu industry. Through social media, you get unwarranted applications from people who try their luck. Each day, on my Facebook page, I get 300 to 400 messages asking for opportunities. If I get 80,000 applications for a film, only 20 to 25 will be worth considering.”
Teja’s casting website functions only when he is on the lookout for new actors and technicians. “When we made the applications free of cost, the server crashed with the response. We found many people e-mailing us 20 to 30 times. Then, we charged Re.1 for the applications and again, the server crashed. Later, we raised the charge to Rs. 111 to put an end to repetitive applications,” he says.
Arun Vaidyanathan, who produced the Tamil film Kalyana Samayal Saadham, directed Achchamundu! Achchamundu! and the Malayalam film Peruchazhi , shares Teja’s concern of being inundated with applications. “In India, there is no dearth of people who want to be actors. At the same time, I find Facebook useful to hire assistant directors,” he says. For his next film, he has sought the help of BenchCast, an initiative by director Karthik Subbaraj ( Pizza and Jigarthanda ).
Karthikeyan Santhanam, co-founder and chief operating officer of BenchCast, is confident of the talent pool that can be tapped through social media. “We realised the need for a project management tool with an efficient search engine mechanism. BenchCast is an integrated platform through which we have around 10,000 profiles of potential actors. So far, we’ve cast for seven films and eight short films,” he says.