What to Consider When Hiring On Screen Talent

Published July 7, 2023

Video productions can feel overwhelming with all of the steps involved. Once the script has been finalized, and the scenes have been blocked, you’re ready to move on to talent sourcing. What should you consider when hiring talent for a video production?

Will you be utilizing real employees or members of the community?

This is something we strongly recommend whenever possible. If you can involve real members of the community, your video will instantly have a more authentic feel. Plus, employees are excited about the opportunity to be in a professional production and oftentimes feel more valued by the company. It also helps cut costs! We’d recommend using a mix of both professional and non-professional talent to balance out the video.

Skill Requirements

You’ll want to assess the amount of skill needed for the roles in your video. Will any speaking be required, or will there be a voiceover? Make sure your chosen talent is comfortable with speaking on camera, and if there is voice acting we’d usually recommend using professional talent.


Now that you’ve sorted out how many professional vs non-professional members of talent you’ll be using, you’ll want to make sure the cast for your video appeals to your audience. Our 25+ years of experience has shown us that every target audience is diverse. For example, if your target is W25-54, that means you’ll have a 20-something year old girl and a 50-something year old woman in your video – and that they won’t necessarily be the same ethnicity or have the same lifestyle. Take this into consideration when sourcing talent and be sure to include and not to alienate. If you are working with a talent firm, make sure they know that this is important to you.


If you’re working with a talent agency, you’ll want to make sure to define the usage for the talent in the video. Most agencies offer a 2 year usage, for web and online only. If you’re looking to use the video for digital billboards, or anywhere else, you’d have to pay an additional usage fee. Defining this up front will help you avoid any unwelcome surprises if you end up using imagery with paid talent past the original usage point.

Talent Releases

When using non-professional talent, you’ll want to make sure you have a talent release ready to sign. This will define how and when their image may be used. If at some point in the future they decide to leave your organization, or you have a relational falling out – or they just don’t like the fact that their image is still out there, you can fall back to what you have in writing. It always helps in relationships with non-professional talent when there are clear boundaries and expectations laid out.


When working with a talent agency, most of the time you’ll be charged per hour, lumped into either a full day or half day rate. Make sure your filming schedule is strategically aligned to gain the most efficiency from the least amount of hours.

For example, can you film the scenes out of order, so you don’t have a member of talent sitting with nothing to do for hours at a time? The less time the talent is on set, the more money you can save. On the day of filming, we’d recommend having a talent sign in sheet so you can record how long each member of talent was on set. This has been a very useful resource for us when it comes to reconciling billing from the talent agency.


We put together a style guide for each video that we produce. This ensures that everyone is on the same page seasonally, and avoids any wardrobe mishaps. Common notes to include would be ruling out sweatpants, sweatshirts, visible logos, stripes, low cut tops and short skirts. You can also define whether the dress code is casual, business casual or formal.

We’d recommend including your brand colors to encourage talent to incorporate the colors if they can. If a pattern or color combination is important to you, then include it in your notes. For example, we have a client that uses red and black and specifically buffalo plaid in a lot of their branding. Additionally, make note of your backgrounds. What colors will clash with your set locations? What might get lost on screen?

Keep in mind, your wardrobe choices can become one of the characters on set – in a good or bad way. Asking talent to bring an extra change of clothes just in case they clash with another cast member or one of their choices doesn’t work with the background or set location is always a great idea.


Please bring three PNW casual outfits on the day of the shoot.

  • Choose clothing with a tapered waist, nothing too baggy.
  • No shorts, skirts or dresses that fall more than 3.5 inches above the knee.
  • No low cut tops.
  • No sweatpants or sweatshirts.
  • No large lines, stripes, graphics, writing or busy patterns.
  • No thin strap tank tops – thick straps are ok. Please also bring a cardigan if you wear a tank top.
  • No clothing with a visible brand or other decals.
  • No red.
  • No buffalo style plaid or gingham style plaid (other plaid styles are acceptable).

Call Sheets

A call sheet is a list of what talent needs to be where and when they need to be there. Make your call sheets easy to understand and simple. We’d recommend sending these out to all talent at least 2 weeks before the filming day. Include whether hair and makeup will be provided (recommended).

On Set Activities and Food

On the day of filming you’ll want to make sure there’s a place for the cast to relax and feel comfortable when they’re not needed on set. This will help you save time by not shifting things or people out of the shot if you are moving around in the same location. Water, coffee, snacks and games are a must! If the shoot is over 4 hours, a meal should be provided for the cast and crew.

Setting aside a location for this will keep your talent from wandering onset at an inopportune moment, inadvertently being a distraction to those that are filming, or making unwanted noise. This can keep your set camera ready as well by keeping objects off camera that shouldn’t be there. (For example, someone’s beverage being left on set by another cast member that ends up being in the shot).

Share the Finished Video!

Once editing is complete and you have a final approved video, send out a personalized email to everyone involved, thanking them for their hard work! When you’re appreciative, it goes a long way to helping your brand’s reputation as well as securing talent for future creative endeavors.

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