Repeat after me: “Casting Directors and Actors are COLLABORATORS. (Not enemies.)”
Recently, one of my Casting colleagues lamented that she wished actors knew how hard we work for them. It made me realize… there’s a whole mountain of activity we Casting Directors do that actors (and other industry folk) really aren’t privy to.
So here is a brief list, specific to the things Casting Directors (and their hard-working staff) do to help actors get the job.
By no means is it limited to the below, nor do we do all of these things on a daily basis. This list also doesn’t include the obvious: run auditions, watch tapes, provide direction, etc.
Without further ado… Casting loves you. Let us count the ways.
Before your audition, Casting Directors:
- Advocate for more roles to be open to gender-identity, ethnicity, physical ability, etc.
- Provide other deeply talented, realistic options when our wide-eyed, passionate director says they want Anthony Hopkins to do a scale role.
- Keep files of actors FOREVER (online, hard copy, in our brains, etc.) And keep tabs on our favorite people.
- Strenuously recommend fewer pages of sides for the first rounds of auditions.
- Scrutinize your materials over and over via endless pitches (phone calls/emails/texts at all hours,) from your reps. We allow ourselves to be open-minded to these ideas, but clear in our concept so no one’s time is wasted.
- Set expectations and discuss process with our team to make sure you get enough time with (and info about) the material.
In/Around/After your audition, Casting Directors:
- Edit your reel/self-tape/audition clips to best present you to producers.
- Pull photos of you from the internet that are character/world appropriate to replace a generic headshot (and help folks with their imagination.)
- Make collages of you with other cast members for the sake of family resemblance. Also to help our team see the full puzzle.
- Re-style you in the audition room, (change your hair, remove your jewelry, have you put on our jacket, etc.) to better reflect the character.
- Download your tapes and reels. Upload your tapes and reels. Sync or flip clips. Check that the video plays. Re-order your scenes so the first clip up is the strongest. Follow up on the info you left out of your slate. Etc. Repeat – all day, every day.
- GUSH about you to our producers and to your reps.
- Liaise between studio/network execs, our producers and your reps CONSTANTLY. This is to make sure everyone is looped in on interest and availability, and nobody loses an opportunity or an actor they love.
- Provide constructive, workshop-like notes for re-tapes when the director says, “Just have them tape again,” and leaves it at that.
- Make sure you have all the information possible to succeed when you go in to meet/read. This includes, but is not limited to: parking instructions, all producer names/titles, word pronunciations, a page of terminology and references when you can’t have a full script, a phone call/audition/meeting with us beforehand to answer questions and so you know you have an advocate in the room.
- Tuck our feelings away when we are having a super shitty day, because we know that you feed off of our energy in the room.
- Show up on a Saturday because we KNOW you are the right person and that’s the only day you have available to read/meet.
Outside the Casting office, Casting Directors:
- Write blog posts/tweet/do panels/teach classes to help demystify the process. Casting Directors want you to have confidence when you go to audition.
- Look up flights online to prove to our line producer that there IS a way to get you to set in time.
- Educate ourselves on union rules and contracts so actors are never put in an uncomfortable or unsafe position.
- Work with our production and your other project to make sure you can logistically work on both projects. And that both shoots are protected from flight delays/weather issues/etc.
- Push production for more money for you. (We don’t always win this one, but we do try!)
- Don’t mention the things on this list because it’s part of our job and we don’t think of any of this as out of the ordinary.