Has anyone used actors for scenarios before?

Hi there everyone,

We're just starting development on a new course about respect in the workplace (harassment). We know the direction and style we want for the course and that's to use in depth scenarios to present real situations that have happened in the past (with names and pertinent details changed of course).

We want to use real photos and not silhouettes or cartoons. The problem we realized today is that we really shouldn't use our own employees since the scenarios will present some serious harassment claims and we wouldn't want an actual employee's photo attached to a "fake/real" scenario in the course.

We looked at eLearningArt.com and like the variety of poses but we are a utility company and need a variety of images of characters in a construction-type setting in addition to some office workers.

I thought today of possibly hiring a couple of actors for this and taking stills. Budget is a bit constrained... as it always is. Has anyone done this before that can share what this might cost? What about a local film school, do you think students would do this for some shots for their portfolio?

Would love to hear the community's thoughts on this. 



4 Replies
David Anderson

Hi Leah!

Great question. We had an active thread a little ago on a similar topic: http://community.articulate.com/forums/p/790/2528.aspx 

Here are a couple suggestions:

1. Hire a photographer who has access to models. The photographer can handle the release forms and finding the models and many will work for free or little cost to build their portfolio. Photographers will (often) expect to retain the rights to the photos so that's something you'll want to negotiate up front. The upside is you're only paying one professional (photographer). The downside is a day of shooting can be expensive.

2. Craigslist and similar boards. Lots of actors and models on Craigslist who you could use. You'll want to find a standard model release form and run it by your legal group. I've worked on several projects where we did that. One challenge is coordinating everyone to be on site at the scheduled times.

3. Friends and family Here's where you can call in all the favors everyone owes you. You should probably have them sign a release form just to be safe.

One of the most important things you can do is storyboard your shots before the shoot. You can go to iStockPhoto and similar sites and find shots and scenarios you wish to imitate. Share those with your photographer and make sure you have a detailed shot list of what you need.


Robert Kennedy

Hi Leah,

Yes, we have done this before.  The largest cost is usually the photographer as they have to do the editing, setup, lighting etc.  David is right, depending on what you want, you can find a lot of willing and aspiring models on craigslist.  I have also used modeling agencies in my area.  Most are fairly reasonable, especially if you tell them what it is for.  I try not to book too far in advance.  But your thoughts about using students is a great one as well.  Check out your local arts college or community college.  You can almost always find decent models as WELL as good student photgraphers that are willing to do a shoot for their own portfolio.

It's also a bit of fun.

Leah Hemeon

Thank you all for your replies. I  had read the previous posts but didn't see mention of using actors. I'm going to check out a couple of local schools and may even try Craigslist (I hadn't thought of this so thank you everyone!)

One more question: for those who have used students, have you found that they want to be paid as well as get shots for their portfolio?

I'm trying to get an idea of what I'm getting myself into.

A note about the release form. I agree that this is very important. Our company has one for internal employees but I'd want our photographer to get any models we use to sign one too.

Thanks again!