Any filmmaker, aspiring or established, will probably admit – they’ve had someone famous in mind for a role during the pre-production process. Making it happen is a daunting prospect that is often left to fate (unless you’re Wes Anderson with The Grand Budapest Hotel). Director Andrew Disney of TFF2014’s sports comedy Intramural took matters into his own hands. He, writer Bradley Jackson and their crew created personalized shorts, like the one above, titled 7 Reasons to Be in Intramural, and sent them to those actors they wished to cast in the film including Jake Lacy, Nikki Reed, Kate McKinnon, and Jay Pharoah, among others.

In an interview questionnaire sent to all filmmakers screening their films at TFF 2014, Disney shares his conviction that his video recruiting process showed the passion behind Intramural and that "passion is infectious" for getting a film off the dust-collecting pages and into production.

The rising-star status of someone like Jay Pharoah might deter a filmmaker from reaching out in the first place. There’s no way they’d go for it, right? However, in this case, the passion was infectious because Intramural has quite the star-studded cast of young comedians with growing fan bases.

At Tribeca, we’re interested in the ways that filmmakers today are breaking traditional rules of filmmaking, aided by advances in technology and social networking, and changing the independent filmmaking landscape as a result. For the old rules broken in recent years, we can now add throwing away the boring director’s demo to the list.

So how can you grab the attention of the talent you have in mind for your film? If I were Nikki Reed (a girl can dream), I would feel super special if a completely unique, personalized invitation to be in your movie popped up in my inbox rather than one from my agent saying something like, “Hey watch this reel when you get around to it and let me know what you think I guess because they want you to be in their next movie.” Yawn. Delete.

Some things to take away from this that seem to have worked thus far:

  • Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there - show how much you care about your film and having that particular actor featured.
  • Create something that shows how your talent differs from the next director rather than do yourself an injustice by compiling a bunch of segments into a five minute-long reel without any cohesiveness.
  • Get weird with it and make yourself memorable. Actors are creative people too; do you really think they’ll go into a project with someone who plays it safe? 

Be sure to check out Intramural at this year's Festival!