You Oughta be in Pictures

How many people do you know that are three feet six inches tall and don’t have an allergy to rubber? Casting director Miranda Rivers hired 5,000 people for 20,000 roles for the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy and most of them had to have round eyes and round cheeks. And if that wasn’t tough enough, she had to find all of these folks in the small country of New Zealand. It’s a real challenge to hire massive numbers of elves and hobbits

She defines her team’s challenges in three parts:

• Attraction: Getting people interested in the project wasn’t a problem; there were potential elves hanging from the trees and people submitted their resumes from all over the world. The acquisition team also got out the word by speaking over the radio about the opportunity and placing classified ads.

• Acquisition: Lots of quick interviews; 15 minutes on average to see if the actor was suitable. Yes, cattle calls do exist in the movie business! Rivers and her team were looking for a great sense of humor and lots of patience, because those traits are vital to being a good elf. Next, the actors had to be sized up, literally, to see if they fit the costumes. The filming period was long, nine months, so sometimes the selected actors were no longer available when the shooting day came along. The answer was to keep recruiting and open up the range of candidates considered. Rivers and her team scoured the countryside, jumping out of their cars and approaching a candidate on the street, if they looked like they might be elf material.

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• Retention: Sometimes, the filming conditions were far from ideal. There were long layoffs between shoots, harsh weather conditions to endure, and some down right uncomfortable costumes to wear. Some people did not return after the first day. The answer was to embrace the actors.

“We looked after people incredibly well,” says Rivers. “We made them feel they were an integral part of the movie. We got to know everybody personally and we fed everybody really well.”

Leslie Stevens writes for human capital and business publications. She was a senior manager in the staffing industry for more than 20 years and understands how talent acquisition contributes to the bottom line. She likes it when readers share their opinions, innovative ideas, and experiences about overcoming obstacles while fighting the global talent war.

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