There is a trend that I can’t quite put my finger on – casting “INFLUENCERS” in a film to please potential distributors.
What is an INFLUENCER? Any random person with a huge social media following that suddenly wants to act. Anyone can act, right? That’s not a profession that takes years of training, classes and hard work to master…
The thought is, cast said influencer, they tweet/snap/instagram your project, and all of their millions of followers will flock to theaters on the release date. But does that actually happen?
Who are these followers? First, let’s reduce the number by half to eliminate the bots that aren’t actually humans.
Now were down to real people. Are they the target demographic of your film? Would they actually pay to see the movie? Or are they the gorilla crew keeping the torrent sites alive? I just don’t believe that the social media fan bases are buying $10 tix at AMC on a Friday night. They’re streaming, baby!
Influencers make a living by being paid anywhere from $20k-200k to shill products on their pages.
On a recent project, I was in negotiations with one of them. There was a lot of pressure from the distributors to cast, let’s call him “Jack,” as the lead. To be safe, we enrolled him in acting classes immediately. He was young and green, but seemed eager enough to make it work.
Cut to: two month’s later when he only made it to 2/10 sessions that we PAID for, and when he did actually go, it became clear that he had never read the script. I will never forget the day the acting coach called me to say: “I don’t think I’m a good fit to teach him.” Let’s just say it’s not a good sign when the teacher quits.
We had a very awkward conversation with “Jack’s” management, and decided that we would recast the lead but give him a small supporting role so he could still be part of the project. Of course, the smaller role meant a smaller fee. The response from the manager was priceless: “Well he get’s paid that much for 1 instagram post. So if you want him to promote your movie, he’ll do it for scale but then you have to pay his going rate per post.” I think my phone may have exploded at that point, or I had a stroke, because I can’t recall the rest of the conversation.
Is that what our business has come to? Cast someone with no talent in a random role and pay them extra to tweet to their (potentially purchased) “fanbase.” No thank you.
Distributors: isn’t there value to great acting? Will people really enjoy a poorly played movie just because their favorite youtube sensation makes a cameo?
I completely understand the rational behind casting big names, but it used to be big name ACTORS. Reality television, vine, and snapchat does not an actor make.
I also have yet to see one movie starring said influencers have a successful big box office release.
As much as this trend makes me cringe as a filmmaker, I can’t imagine how the actors are taking it. I could just see their inner monologue: “Should I go to my class at Groundlings today and work on my craft, or just go take a selfie in a thong at Runyon to get more followers?” I really can’t say what will help your career more.