In this tough job market, we've seen people use YouTube for attempting to land a job. But have you ever heard of a video done to land a leading acting part in a popular movie by a major, critically-acclaimed director? Learn how one acting couple decided to circumvent the traditional casting call route, and put out their own video proposal on YouTube to the director and casting agency, and let the web community help decide their fate.
Last month while I was covering the Streaming Media West conference, I met with ReelSEO fan Casey Zeman, himself a professional actor based in Los Angeles, and also a self-employed video marketer and WordPress trainer. I originally met Casey at a WordCamp event in Detroit event this past August, where I heard him present to the audience about his own video strategies for WordPress. Coincidentally, Casey mentioned to the audience that he followed ReelSEO and was a fan of ours. Afterwards we talked and agreed to meet up at his place in Los Angeles, and hear about an interesting video endeavor he and his wife were going to be involved in which other ReelSEO fans might want to follow.
The Social Video Marketing Audition Experiment
Casey was working with his wife and fellow actor Diana Newton, who put out a personal video "message" to Alien Movie director Ridley Scott, with a request for an audition in the yet-untitled Alien prequel, to be considered for a female role in the movie (preferably as the lead actress).
Here is how the couple set out to accomplish the goal of their social video marketing experiment:
Goal #1 – Get attention
- A 1st page Google search ranking for their video under "Ridley Scott”
- Get buzz through the social networks and key influencers in the movie industry or following the movie industry
Goal #2 – Get access
- Use the search visibility and social buzz primarily to get the attention of to Ridley Scott's production office, RSA (and hopefully get it passed on to Ridley Scott himself); and secondarily, other casting agencies.
- Have RSA arrange for a meeting and possible audition, and;
- Have it all serve as a springboard to getting doors opened in the acting industry and meetings/auditions with other casting agencies.
The Plan and Process
- Create the personal video (and a complimentary video)
- Upload the video to YouTube, Casey's own branded website, and a Facebook fan page especially created for the project.
- Create a simple landing page with a facebook comment area on a keyword-branded website:
- Go out to social media sites where people are passionate about the movie to generate buzz – YouTube, facebook fan groups, bloggers, sci-fi sites and blogs, fan pages, etc. "We are now getting other bloggers to write stories both good and bad about the video." Says Casey. "I did some forum marketing with Syfy forums. We also did some IMDB pro message areas for Ridley Scott projects and this particular project.”
- Advertising – Casey took my advice and did the YouTube Promoted Videos advertising solution, along with making a shorter version of their "making of the video" from the long-format interview we originally did together.
- Feedback – Along with their promotional activities, both Casey and Diana been very good at responding to comments, both positive and negative.
Why do a Social Video Marketing Experiment for an Acting Gig?
Casey explained that RSA was still looking for the lead female role in the movie, and the hope was that she could still get asked in. "She is auditioning all the time so this would hopefully not be too unheard of. Of course we are requesting an audition for lead and the studio was looking for a 'name' actress for that part. We know we have quite a big hurdle to leap. That is why online visibility was [the first] goal of ours.”
In regards to the video piece, "We were not looking to put her 'on tape', which is what a casting director does." Says Casey. "We simply wanted to make a video message to Ridley requesting the audition. (Not to actually do an audition without the request,)" which perhaps as a way to be bold and innovate, but also respectful.
What Would a Real Casting Director Think of This?
How would they likely respond to someone making a request for a lead acting role in a major feature movie, via YouTube? Would they be impressed, or turned off? For that, we asked former casting director Joanna Colbert for her professional opinion. Joanna was a Casting Executive at Universal Pictures from 1995 until 2002. From 1995 to 1999 she was Manager of Casting and from 1999 to 2002 she was Senior Vice President. At Universal she was involved with such films as: Happy Gillmore, The Mummy, American Pie, Meet the Parents, and Bruce Almighty.
"If I'm choosing between two equally talented and qualified actors for a role, and actor #2 has their own web-series or a Youtube presence, I will be inclined to chose #2." Says Joanna. "Diana's video is today's version of Cameron Diaz's ad in the Hollywood Reporter; It's bold and takes full advantage of available resources. Actors should take this opportunity to utilize technology in a creative way to stand above the rest.”
Has any 'Reel' Progress Been Made?
In the few weeks that they had to launch the video and promote it, they've had nearly 20,000 views on YouTube, over 250 shared comments on Facebook, as well as over 600 "Likes".
Casey also says that since the video went live, they've also had a response from RSA (Ridley Scott's film company), as well as getting that video to the head of the movie project over at Fox.
"Diana is also in talks with a company in regards to being a face for it, an example of ripple effects of the video. We have also been asked by someone at RSA to do a shorter and revamped version of the video, something 60 to 90 seconds. Specific to Ridley, however still showing the marketing of the original video." He says.
And how about the movie fans?
"Diana was just interviewed by a fan who owns a syfy site (likely from the Sci-Fi forum post Casey did.) She is listed as the feature story. So she is getting some people interested in her story ,we are seeing it appeal very strongly to the inspiration genre." says Casey.
"This video seems to evoke exactly what we are looking for. A strong response, both negative and positive." He says. "We generally get people who either love it or hate it. A strong emotional response helps to get our wider scoped vision met. So the campaign is going well in my opinion, even when you get ass clowns who write articles such as 'Why Diana Newton should not be considered for The Alien Prequel'.”
"Strangely enough the video may have landed me some more clients (of my own)." He adds.
Tips for Your Own Video Job Application
Here are some additional tips I offered Casey and Dianne on their own social video marketing experiment, which you can also take for your own bold video job application of any kind:
- Fix the closed captioning text on Youtube. (The automated closed captioning may turn out lots of weird characters, for those who have that feature turned on.)
- Optimize around more search terms that are popular and relevant. For this video message, I recommending looking for popular search terms related to "alien movie prequel" and "alien origins" (E.g., "new alien movie prequel.”)
- Post video responses to fan videos on Alien prequel. Fans of the movie will be more likely to spread the word if you reach out to them socially, i.e., the "Old Spice" way.
- Join related Facebook Groups and share your videos there.
- Re-shoot with better technical quality – better lighting, better audio. Treat even a request for an audition like the actual audition tape (video) itself.
- Expect negative feedback, and have a good plan for handling that. (Think of the arguments that naysayers are most likely to use, and have a response prepared.) Also, don't be quick to respond to nasty comments, since it can catch you at an emotional time. For negative comments, allow yourself a day to send out "thoughtful" responses, so you make sure you still appear professional (even when others are not).
Thanks to Casey for sharing his and his wife's "social video marketing experiment," and I wish them the best of success on this! (If she lands the part as Ripley's mom, ask her to request one of her lines in the movie be her shouting out, "ReelSEO ROCKS!" ;)