Casting talent for your video project

Internal versus professional talent

by Beatriz Terrazas, IMI co-founder

There are many ways to fill a talent role for your visual message. At InMotion Imagery we draw from several talent agencies for narration and acting roles in our clients’ videos. However, there can be compelling reasons for using talent within your company. For instance, you may want to feature an employee profile as a way to recruit new talent, or you may want to show actual employees in their everyday roles for an internal training video. Or, you may have a tight budget and feel that you can’t afford professional talent for your project.

In fact, cost is one of the main reasons clients cite for wanting to use internal talent. Yes, you’ll pay for professional talent to voice or act in your company video, and you might think the main cost involved in using someone within your company is time and energy. But, there could be hidden costs to using your own talent. 

Professional actors are experienced at taking direction, reading narration, using proper inflection, and, in general, are comfortable in front of the camera. But let’s say your budget dictates that you use a family member or employee instead, and you plan for a couple of hours of production time with that person. What happens to your budget if you have to spend double or triple that time because your talent couldn’t get the line or scene right? What happens to your project deadlines if you have to re-shoot parts of your project entirely? How does this affect not just your time, but your overall feeling about the project? 

Remember: Your visual message is a marketing tool. You want the people delivering the message to be able to do it well.

If you still want to produce your visual message with internal talent, here are some tips to help you get it right:

  • Planning is everything. Consider doing some informal “casting” among the folks you’re considering for this part using a real camera, even if it’s the one on your smartphone. See how people come across on camera.
  • If this is a speaking role, consider people who are articulate and present themselves well in terms of dress, grooming and demeanor. It’s not necessary to be a super-model or to look like a Hollywood actor, but it is necessary to be well-groomed and well-spoken.
  • Consider how even the most articulate person will do in front of a camera. Some people do very well, while others get nervous or flustered. Will you be asking the person to memorize a script? Will you be using a teleprompter? Will you be doing an interview style production? Think about who will do best with each scenario.
  • Is diversity of gender, race and ethnicity important to your company? If it’s something that you want to come across in your message, consider casting someone who will represent the diversity that matters to you.

Here's an example of a project in which clients used their own employees and brought in their own talent for the main role and it worked beautifully!