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Actors Vs Real People – Who To Use, and When?

June, 2015

We get this a lot from clients – when to use actors and when to use our own people in the videos? Sometimes it’s about the money (ie, ‘our people’ = no cost), and other times it’s about credibility; why would we trust someone who’s been hired for the day?

(By the way, actors are real people. They have families and pets and go to the supermarket. But for the sake of this article, you know what I mean.)

We’ve had quite a bit of experience with actors, real people and combinations of the two. And there are pros and cons on each side.

Actors can look down the barrel of a camera and deliver with confidence. If you’re making a direct appeal to your team, that can be important. They can learn lines (which saves time on the shoot) and need fewer takes to nail their scene (saving time on the shoot, and in the edit). And with the right casting and delivery, they can be so convincing that it’s hard to tell whether they’re an actor or an actual team member.

Real People, on the other hand, are real. They know what they’re talking about. When it comes to communicating about your business, they have a credibility and knowledge that actors never will. Mind you, they often hate being on camera (and forever blame the person who roped them into doing the video). It’s easy to underestimate how difficult it can be to present to the camera; what may have felt like a ‘simple bit of filming’ can sometimes turn into a stressful situation for those who aren’t used to the process.

And if they leave the business for whatever reason, that video might be instantly out of date.   We’ve often been called back to remove people from videos, especially around ‘restructure’ time…

So which way to go?

It depends on your message, and how you want the audience engaged. We usually recommend actors for the presenting part of the video, and always for the role plays. But for authentic points of view, nothing beats getting the message directly from those who live and breathe this world every day.

Can you have an actor and real person in the same scene? Yes, if there’s some rapport going on. Sometimes the actor lifts the real persons energy, or can be the distraction that person needs to relax on camera. Below is a great example of an actor and a real member of the business working together perfectly:

Standing and delivering anything to others isn’t as easy as it looks; it needs practice and confidence. Whether these people are found or hired, you want the strongest ‘carrier’ you can find.

Or we can find them for you. Just saying.