Auditioning talent

I am working on a course that will include video footage of various safety scenarios. The 'actors' are all volunteer employees, all with varying degrees of experience. The good news is that we have plenty of volunteers, the bad news is that we have plenty of volunteers. As a means of selecting the best fit of volunteer to scenario, the course committe is inviting all prospects to an upcoming planning meeting to give a project overview, as well as to audition the volunteers, so to speak, though I use the term audition very loosely.

The scenarios in which they will be working do not include much dialogue, so we wanted to use some sort of process to evaluate these people. Ideas? I am also looking for pointers from anyone that has been through this process before.

Thanks so much --

6 Replies
Jeff Kortenbosch

I'd think that part of your design process would be to determine what type of person you want to focus on taking into account all visual diversity aspects required: age, ethnicity, disability, size, posture, clothing etc. That should help make the choices. Also be sure that they sign off on the material being used, beyond their term of employment, for legal reasons.

Tanya L'Estrelle-Adcock

Jeff Kortenbosch said:

I'd think that part of your design process would be to determine what type of person you want to focus on taking into account all visual diversity aspects required: age, ethnicity, disability, size, posture, clothing etc. That should help make the choices. Also be sure that they sign off on the material being used, beyond their term of employment, for legal reasons.


We do just this and once we decide on the 'character' we want we approach the person and request their involvement. We have used this approach for both visual and voice over characters very successfully.

Jeremy Heersink

We use real employees, but our situation is a little different.  I work for a restaurant franchise.  So often, we go to the local franchise location to use real employees doing their real job.  Most of the time they are excited to be included in the training materials.  I agree with the above about making sure you get a talent release form signed.  Never know what might happen, so its best to cover your end legally.  

The one down side with speaking/acting parts with using employees is that quality can be a concern.  Search online for a reader's theater piece and have them audition using that material.  You'll quickly get an idea of their speaking and acting talents to know if they will be a good fit for your training piece.

Michael McHale

Wendy, I see one major problem is that a committee is going to select the on-screen talent. I would have the video director audition talent and make the selection. The auditions should be taped, it's the best way to see how people will react to being in front of a camera. The committee could then view the auditions to make sure that their objectives are being met.

Jeff's point is valid, all talent should sign a release.

Wendy Garrison

Thanks all for your responses. I agree with everyone's suggestion about a release and we do have that in place.

Michael -- good point regarding the video director auditioning the talent and taping the auditions.

Jeremy -- agreed - I need to do a search for a reader's piece.

Tanya / Jeff -- identifying characters ahead of time is a smart approach -- thanks!

Jeanette Brooks

Neat that you are using real people in your course, Wendy!

Another thing I'd recommend is to sit down with your safety SMEs ahead of time and come up with a checklist of non-negotiables regarding your actors' appearance, such as clothing requirements, hair, shoes, personal protective equipment, hairnets/beardnets, and any other safety-related or environmental requirements. Share this list ahead of time with your candidates, to make sure that when they show up for their audition (and later for the actual filming) that they comply with all safety/GMP rules. If they can't comply (or don't remember to comply) during their audition, I'd cross them off the list.

One time I was working on a technical training video in which a seasoned, long-term shift-leader was featured. None of us noticed till we were viewing the footage afterward that he had a pack of cigarettes in his pants pocket. Although it wasn't very noticeable, it was there and visible, and we just could not use the footage because it violated one of our company's GMP policies. It was a costly mistake!