• Sean LaFollette


A poem by Sean LaFollette
The Emotional Toll

There it is, a finished script filled with a variety of characters ranging in age, shape, gender and race. Then you make the decision, I’m going to film this story. I’m going to bring this thing to life. It’s a beautiful feeling full of excitement, but it comes with a lot of work. You have to break down the script to figure out a budget, rehearsals, shooting days, equipment, crew, craft services, locations, props, wardrobe and finally casting.

Casting for a film is a lot of fun but often difficult to navigate. On one hand you get to see people bring your characters to life, adding their unique perspective to each performance. On the other hand, you hold someone’s dreams and ambitions in your hands. For each character, your decision gets to realize the dream of ONE person and kill the spirit of MANY others. It kills me to tell people no, but just know it’s NEVER personal.

There’s so many factors at play when casting a role, it really has NOTHING to do with you. You could be trained, with a ton of experience and seemingly perfect for a role and still not get the part. Let’s take a look further exploring the reasons why you may not land the role.


When you read a character on the page, you develop an image of what that might look like in your head. Here’s the problem, what you see in your head is going to be different from other people. You might see a pretty twenty year old or a handsome thirty year old and I see it as something completely different.

Some character descriptions can be very precise when it comes to age, gender, race and body type. You might fit the description perfectly, but not be perfect for the part. All you can do is put yourself out there, try and see what happens.

When I write a screenplay and specifically character descriptions, I tend to keep things very vague. I want to have options and plenty of them when it comes to casting. I have an idea of what a character looks like in my head, but I also have been pleasantly surprised by actors who bring something unexpected to the table. So if you fit the description of a character and you have even a little bit of interest, put yourself out there and audition. Get through all the NO’s that you will inevitably hear and work your way to finally hearing that YES.


Be prepared and be natural. That is the best advice I can give. Everyone has nerves, especially when you’re putting yourself out there for a group of people to essentially judge. Trust me, I can tell nerves vs not being prepared. Learn your lines, know them like the back of your hand and deliver as naturally as possible.

When I watch someone’s audition, I want to see realism. I don’t want you to be over the top, I don’t want the dialogue to come off as fake and unnatural. I don’t want you to “perform”. I want you to be real. I want it to seem as though you are talking to a friend. Don’t like the lines? Can’t make them seem natural? Change them slightly to make it work for you. Anything you can do to be as natural as possible will work in your favor.

Look at any scene, in any film. Good acting isn’t over acting. It’s living real in the moment. If a scene calls for your character to be sad, just be sad. With editing, lighting, music and direction, you have no need to over act. Be natural, let your piece of the puzzle fit with the others and the emotion will naturally be conveyed to the audience. It’s not your job as an actor to carry a film, it’s to fit naturally with all of the other pieces of the process.


This is the last piece of the casting puzzle. Remember, film is a long process and you spend many hours working together, towards a common goal. Nobody wants to work with an asshole. Don’t be an asshole.

When you apply for a role, show up for an audition, hell even just send an email, you should display a high level of professionalism. It shows that you give a shit. It shows that you WANT this more than the next person. It shows that you care.

When you initially reach out, inquiring about a role, you should send a well crafted email. Be clear, concise and professional. Next, when sides are provided, follow up with questions. Again, this will display your interest. It signifies that you have read the material and want a greater understanding to fully develop your character for the audition. Film is collaborative, it shows you want to collaborate.

Lastly, be humble. After your audition, thank the individuals for their time. Time is our most precious commodity and nobody likes it wasted. Whether you get a role or not, people took the time to give you a shot. That’s a win. Conversely, they should of course thank you in return, but remember, you can’t control what other people do. Just be your best self and always say thank you regardless.


This one is simple, be prepared, be real, be on time, be professional and be humble. You can’t control somebody’s decision but you sure as hell can control YOUR approach to the process. Focus on that and the rest will take care of itself.

- The Failed Filmmaker






8 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All