The Casting Director Value Add
People seem to love a good ol' 'behind the scenes of casting' story and just how the mysterious Casting Directors found the characters you know and love today. So here's a little shout out to the CD's of the world!
There does seem to be more conversation or news these days about How the Casting Process Works, or A Look Into The Casting Process of this show, or How the Casting Director’s Helped Shape that Movie and so on.
With more and more talk and support behind the Casting Industry and getting behind recognising some of the Casting greats at award shows across the globe, we thought it would be a good chance to combine all the elements we feel sum up how Casting Directors add value to the production process and the production itself.
It might sound like a bit of a ‘blow your own horn’ moment from us, so excuse us while we do (toot, toot). In all seriousness though, it takes a lot of work, research and risk every time we (and every other CD) endeavour to cast a project and we are giving all CDs a good old shout out (and horn blowing) for what they bring to the table!
Endless Studio Hours
For every one person you see in Film, TV or Commercials, there may have been 10s, 100s or 1000s of people we have met and auditioned for this role and even more hours of footage reviewed from self tapes and showreels.
Whilst we may have multiple projects on the go at once, when we are prepping a brief or in studio for one our focus is tunelled. We are non-stop thinking about the perfect people, where to find them, when to meet them, what to do with them in the studio and then ultimately meeting them and auditioning them with undivided attention.
Some studio sessions are gruelling - material can be heavy, intense or physical and we go through this process with the same gumption as the very first person right to the very end.
We give all of our energy to each individual person in order to make them feel prepared, comfortable and give them adequate direction for them to walk out knowing they have nailed it.
The Casting Director for GLOW auditioned women until late into the night for 10 weeks, each with physical challenges, in her own audition room (*so many clapping emojis).
It is our job to find the right way to audition someone. It’s also our job to know when it’s not working - all actors are different and sometimes, we have to mix it up. Sometimes, we have to repeat ourselves for hours, days and weeks on end. Ultimately we need to figure out a way to give each person the best audition opportunity and bring out their performance in the best light.
Which brings me to…
Creating a Nurturing Environment
It’s always in the Casting Director’s control to create the environment they want in a casting studio. We are fortunate enough to get to choose how we work with actors and to us this is not only an opportunity to have fun, but also adapt our process and workplace to be a space that produces the best work possible, for both us and the actor.
Ultimately we want to cast someone - this isn’t a test of failing or scaring an actor into a role - so it’s in our best interest to give the actor the best opportunity to shine in the room. At CnC we are proud of our nurturing and collaborative casting studio - it is extremely actor driven and we believe a lot of the time it contributes to what the quality of work the actor produces in the room.
Pushing boundaries (even when it’s controversial)
It can be a terrifying prospect to challenge your clients and colleagues. Everyone no doubt experiences this in their work life. But sometimes, we decide to challenge our clients on politically charged and controversial boundaries like gender, physical or intellectual abilities, or ethnicity. It can be confronting and intimidating, but if we don’t do it and make bold choices as Casting Directors, wonderful casting opportunities can be missed and we won’t be surprising our audiences!
Given the current political climate, this is all very topical and appears to be everywhere in the news, but specifically some great examples have been the Narcos Casting Director bring Latino representation to the forefront and Netflix’s Good Girls altering the brief not only on gender but taking it even further to unlabelled genders.
Don’t get us wrong, sometimes the changes don’t work, and ultimately the story needs to be told and in the best way possible, but if we can get Directors and productions at least thinking outside the box we’re absolutely thrilled!
Sometimes we nag...
Sometimes Directors, Investors, Networks and us have someone in mind for a project from the greenlight that we simply cannot get past. If this is the case, and anyone feels this passion toward a particular actor we will fight on the productions behalf (or for us)! We will NAG, beg and plead for an actor to audition, reconsider or look at a script before we move on.
No one likes to be that person, but we will be when it’s required. The Sex and the City Casting Directors were all about this when getting Kim Cattrall on board and thank bloody goodness they did. Can you picture anyone else playing Samantha?!
There’s no doubt about it, Casting Directors add a lot of value to a production. We are often some of the first crew to be bought onto a project and it is the first time us and the director actually sees the characters coming to life on screen. It’s an exciting time to see how actors pitch the actors and tell the story, when they make bold choices and even create new ways of looking at the material.
Having a good CD is absolutely imperative for film, tv and even for advertising projects - without one, it’s risky. We do what we do for a reason - because we’re awesome at it and we love the audition process. Ultimately, we want to create the best cast possible for your project to shine. Plus, we loving doing it!!