How producing, modeling and software engineering came together into the creation of the technology-powered talent agency Fastcast
We spoke with David Halb, founder and CEO of Fastcast, about their Ljubljana-based talent casting agency. Although they started four years ago as a small company, they have already landed some big projects and their goal is to become the world’s largest technology-powered talent agency that could cater to all types of businesses.
Production Paradise: Could you tell us more about the company? What is your main goal?
David Halb: We started our as a software-powered agency about four years ago. We were a group of tech-enthusiastic producers and talent agents. Actually, when me (David) and Jošt, our CTO, had met I was producing some of the biggest commercials, and Jošt earned part of his student income as a model, while studying software engineering. We both soon recognised that a powerful software marketplace would be a great progress for the production industry in a global sense. So from that point on, our main goal was to become the world’s largest technology-powered talent agency that caters to both small brands who produce content and footage for their own social media ads, but also to large international production projects such as commercials and big-budget movies to streamline the casting and talent scouting processes. Of course we are also offering great services to help talent agents and scouts discover the right talent for their rosters.
Production Paradise: What is the market you operate in?
David Halb: So far we managed to open most of the Balkans markets, Italy, Germany, UK, Hungary. We are planning to establish operations in France, Spain and a part of US by the end of this year, and Bollywood the next year.
Production Paradise: Is it challenging for a Ljubljana-based company to go international? Which were the biggest challenges you faced?
David Halb: In a way yes. As soon as you are located in a relatively small market you face the danger to generalise market behavior based on what you have learned in your “local” market – and of course this can be seriously misleading and even damaging. So what a young software company has to do, is listen closely to other markets and learn from users in other countries so that you can prepare to scale your company globally. And that is the best way to do things. Listening to customers around the world. No customer can ever be ignored.
Production Paradise: How do you choose the right people to represent? How do you make sure the quality is good enough?
David Halb: Daily and weekly we distribute hundreds of opportunities for different types of talent, ranging from professional models, academic actors to bulk hiring of extras: hundreds of extras per production day. So what we focus on is the ability to fit every budget. Some of our most prominent operations for clients are:
– Acquiring large numbers of fresh talent for specific projects, so that clients don’t run into pains of having too little candidates to chose from,
– Weekly creation of curated shortlist for our top clients,
– Digital contracting for large number of hired talents,
– Payment distribution – so we work with a number of clients who mainly use our payment distribution services – these are companies who hire more than a hundred people per month and then they compensate hired talent with only one invoice through our system – and we distribute the salaries automatically to each and every hired talent’s personal account.
One of the greatest examples are our stock image contributors, who generally hire at least 60% ethnically diverse cast – meaning 60% of the models they hire anywhere in the world have to be non-Caucasian. And so far we are the only European company that can deliver this result.
Production Paradise: What has been the biggest and most exciting project you have worked on?
David Halb: Well, there have been many! But I would like to point out two of them, because they are so very different. So one was a fake NBA-style basketball game that we had to produce for iStock last year together with one of the world’s biggest stock footage producers. We actually hired close to 1300 ethnically diverse extras from three countries for a five hour production. I believe that without our software this would have never been possible – or at least it would cost 10 times more money than it did, or it would probably take a lot more time and staff to pull of a project like this. The other one was very exciting because we got a chance to collaborate with an Oscar-winning film director (Gabrielle Salvatores) and his team, to provide most of the secondary cast for their upcoming movie that is set to be released by the end of this year.
Production Paradise: How was your industry affected by the coronavirus pandemic and what is your strategy to overcome the challenges that it brought?
David Halb: It was very impacted. Not our own industry because we are a digital company first. We have seen that our clients workflow was extremely impacted by the dynamics that the lockdown has created in most countries. But what we have discovered is that brands are extremely creative, and that we as a digital scouting company can actually serve much better in this “new” era, which calls for minimising physical contact and demands digitising of processes that you would otherwise never dream possible. So I believe that our mission and vision is actually coming to full potential in this period and after it.
Production Paradise: What would you say is the biggest advantage of providing your services 100% online?
David Halb: It is making the business process itself much more enjoyable, reliable, efficient, controlled and most of all faster and cheaper. Basically think of our service as if you would hire an army of agents working for you 24/7 but for the fraction of the price. So we strongly believe in the selling proposition that our service is offering clients and brands around the world.
Production Paradise: How does Production Paradise help your company?
David Halb: Most of all, by exposing our services and our company to relevant industry professionals around the globe who want to reach out and talk to us about their needs. It is very exciting to have access to such a strong professional community of creators and learn from them.
We would like to thank David Halb, founder and CEO of Fastcast for taking the time to speak with us. If you want to read more about Fastcast, check out their member page.