How to Source Dancers and Extras for Your Music Video

While professional equipment and special effects can be costly, putting people at the centre of your video can be entertaining, while not as pricey as you might think. Casting actors, models, music video extras and dancers may seem expensive, but don’t be discouraged – we’ll tell you exactly how to do it, even on a shoestring.

How to Find Dancers and Extras for Your Music Video:

#1 Enlist your friends and family as music video extras — free, but won’t always go to plan.

The obvious way to source actors and extras for your low-budget music video is getting your friends and family involved. They will not, likely, charge you money, and filming together could be fun. On the downside, they might not have any acting experience and you will likely have to work around their schedule.

Skepta’s ‘Shutdown’ is proof that you don’t have to break the bank to make a good clip. Shot at London’s Barbican, the video has a gritty nineties feel. It reportedly cost just £80 but since its release on YouTube in 2015, it’s attracted over 37 million views on that platform alone.

#2 Collaborate with others looking to boost their career — low cost and beneficial to all

Just like musicians, actors, dancers and models have to start somewhere. At the beginning of their career, many agree to work as extras or dancers for your music video for free, in exchange for exposure and the opportunity to build up their portfolio.

Before you can start your search for dancers and music video extras, you need to have a good idea of what your video will be like. Write a detailed script, or create a storyboard so you can present it to your potential collaborators. You should also have a list of all the people you need. Make a clear description of what skills they should have and what kind of look you’re after.

Caution: Shameless plug ahead! Continue reading below.

Use social media to spread the word about the casting of dancers and extras for your music video. You can also advertise it for free on many dedicated websites (starnow.com, dancingopportunities.com, dancejobs.com, etc.), but don’t underestimate the power of posters or fliers. Hang them up around art schools and wait for the enquiries to come your way. You might end up with more applicants than you need!

Remember, the more professional you seem, the more likely you are to succeed. The collaboration has to be worthwhile not only for you, but also for the models or dancers you end up working with. Organise your casting as professionally as possible and always be polite and respectful — even to the oddest of candidates.

If you’re lucky, they may not charge you, but you should offer to, at least, cover their basic expenses (food, travel, etc.).

#3 Hire professional dancers and music video extras — costly, but has clear advantages

The easiest way to find extras and dancers for a music video is to go through a dedicated agency that acts as a middleman between you and the people you need to hire. However, it’ll cost you and it won’t be cheap.

If your budget is limited, but you’re still able to offer decent pay, you can find models or dancers through portfolio websites such as Star Now, Model Mayhem or One Model Place. The biggest challenge you’ll face is credibility — dancers, models and extras with considerable experience may not want to risk working with a newbie.

If you’ve got some money to invest in the project, consider hiring a respectable filmographer who will add credibility to the production and help attract professional talent — You will also end up with a considerably better video than if you spent all your money on dancers/actors, and none on the filming!

Reportedly, the world’s most expensive music video made to date is Michael & Janet Jackson’s Scream. The production cost $10.7 million (though it was originally planned to cost $7 million) and involved a myriad of special effects.

The more the merrier!

However you end up sourcing dancers and extras, remember that creating a music video is only the beginning. Once your music video is ready, you will also have to do some work to attract attention. That’s when social media and email marketing come to play, but don’t forget about your collaborators.

See our article: Email Marketing for Musicians

If they’re looking to build a career, like yourself, chances are that your actors, dancers and extras will be eager to spread the word about your production. Make the most of it by telling them how to effectively promote the video and watch your view count rise.

Want to learn how to make a low-budget music video? Take a look at: How to Shoot a Low-Budget Music Video

Have you ever created a music video? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below — don’t forget to leave a link to your video

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