The Quentin Tarantino Archives logo

Using friends as actors

Do you think this is a good idea?  What I mean is, when you have a good script you’ve worked your ass off writing, do you just cast your friends, who you know can’t act, just because it’s free?  Is it worth risking having them fuck it up or is it better to go through a casting process for aspiring actors (who’ll work for credit and nothing more)?


I would suggest using “proffesional” (I am using this term very loosely) actors, instead of just a couple of buddies that cannot act for a couple reasons:

  1.  Sometimes friends do not take it as seriously as say an aspiring actor, looking for credit.  They might look at it more as a social event, more than an actual shoot.

  2.  Usually, your buddies are simply, not good at acting.

    It’s better just to sign real actors to deferral agreements.

    Some more questions you might want to ask yourself before shooting a movie:

    How long is your shoot going to be? How long is your script? Do you have access to everything for period of time?

    Crew:  How big is it?  Do you have a Producer, DOP, Sound man, etc.?  Are you going to provide the food/snacks?

    Gear: do you have all the equipment, including props?  I’d suggest reading over your script and make a list of all the props you’ll need.  Do you have enough tape stock for your shoot?

    Location: How many locations does your script have, do you need permits to shoot there?  How do plan to get there?  How many locations are there?

    Financing:  How do you plan on Financing your movie? Is it through self-funding, funding aggencies, broadcasters, distributers, private investors, studios, etc.?

    I just touched the tip of the iceberg there.  You still have to worry about the actual shoot it self, post-production and distrubution/editing.  Making a movie is a lot, and I mean A LOT of work.  GL with everything, hoped this helped.

I’ll give you my advice on both friends and “Real” actors.

I filmed a short (7.5 minutes) film a month or so ago. I used only friends. I had 6 people total, only 3 had a lot of dialogue. I used people I thought had the personality to act. My lead actor is real outgoing and friendly, however when put in front of the camera, he tensed up and become very self conscious and mundane sounding. It worked out alright for the character, but it made for a lot more takes than I wanted. I ended up casting the other people very well and they did great! However, 2 of the characters had a really long dialogue scene together, and I wanted them to memorize it all, gave them a lot of notice, and reminded them a lot. However, they didn’t have much memorized when they got to the sset. So, it added at least an hour to the shoot, we had A LOT OF TAKES. Also, the biggest thing was that on multiple times, they’d tell me to do something a certain way or offer way too many suggestions slowing stuff down. Also, trying to change lines and whatnot. The biggest problem overall though, was that my best friend played one of the characters. He was great, but he acted like he was co-director or something like that. He also, kept making fun of me, as though we were just hanging out like normal, saying crap like you suck at directing, this line sucks, etc. I know he was just razzin me, but that is not cool at all. It made it a little less enjoyable for me.

Now, the thing about “real” actors. I’m not sure how “real” your actors are, or what your resources are. But at the university I attend, we have access to actors through the theatre department. Some are really good, and some are pretentious a-holes. I’ve heard a lot of horror stories of actors quitting halfway through a shoot. Like after a week or something. Therefore, take into consideration how long your shoot will be. If it’s gonna be multiple days, make sure they are reliable or hold them to some kind of contract. Sometimes they can be a pain to work with. The older the better. Freshman and sophomore actors seem to be worse.

So, there it is. Sorry all that was so long. Hope everything works out for ya!

Yeah if you gonna use your friends as actors make sure they can act and they’re serious do screen tests and run throughs before the shoot ( pre production is pretty important).

first…use friends to get some actual experience in movie making…it doesnt mather if they are crappy!

The point of making your first few movies isnt to make a masterpiece! jut get some experience in as much fields in moviemakig…

later on, if you made a few films and feel like hiring better actors is the next step…do that!

yeah look for aspiring actors who would take it more seriously.