Part of the production process is deciding whether or not you need to hire professional on-screen talent. In most circumstances, we’ll suggest that you do. Professional talent definitely costs more, about $1,000+ a day per actor plus the cost of auditions, but will also save you time and money in production because professional talent will be able to get the shot done quickly and easily. Not to mention, professional talent will result in a more realistic and professional final project.
However, there are instances where using your own team members is the right choice. At SolidLine Media, we never say “don’t use your own people.” If we’re creating a brand film it makes perfect sense to use your employees as extras or in on-camera interviews. “But, when you need a strong host character to carry the video along, or if you have dialogue scenes that require a realistic and narrative feel; professional talent is the only way to go” says Executive Producer, Greg Vass. We’ll use your employees, if the project calls for them, but otherwise strongly suggest the use of professional talent to save time and avoid the disaster of your run of the mill, cold “corporate” video.
At the end of the day, the biggest difference between professional and non-professional talent is quality. Clients have requested we cut corners on talent in the past, hiring actors from online sites or local churches/community theatre groups, but we’ve had limited success with these non-professional performances. “It’s a slippery slope,” says Vass, “You really aren’t sure what you will get. Sure, you may save a few bucks, but it could really impact the production if it goes bad.” In the end, professional talent will cost more money, but the result will be the professional look and feel you are seeking.
From a cost perspective, professional talent is worth his or her part of the budget. Not only will the end-result be a professional, realistic performance, which is especially important in dialogue scenes, but professional talent might actually save you money in the long run. That’s right. Professional talent has more experience; they’ll require fewer takes in the field, saving on and speeding up location production, not to mention saving on editing costs and time. It may seem cheaper to use internal people for your video but, according to Vass, with the added production and editing costs, in the end you can end up spending the same or more.
So, now that you are thoroughly convinced that cutting corners is not the answer, we’re going to get into something a little more technical: Union versus Non-Union talent. In many cases, Union talent may yield a larger, more experienced, polished choice of actors. Though there are many cities with a thriving community of Non-Union talent, Chicago in particular. But Union talent is typically 50% more expensive than Non-Union talent. “The other issue,” Vass explains, “is rights.” Vass says that in his experience “Union talent typically requires a rights managed situation where you can only use their component in the video for a certain period of months or years and with limited mediums.” This must all be negotiated before hand and you may find yourself with online-only rights or limited television markets. Non-Union talent, on the other hand, is typically more agreeable when it comes to “rights in perpetuity” aka the right to use the film forever and anywhere. It may take a longer audition process to find the Non-Union talent you are looking for and they are often not quite as experienced as Union talent, but the cost is definitely lower.
As always, the professional team at SolidLine will work with you to find the right talent for your project and budget.