Finding the right people to match the characters in a script is far from simple. It takes a whole lot more than most people know. For some reason, everyone seems to expect a massive publication asking for people to come audition. But what if the right people are people based in a faraway location? What happens then? How does the casting director find his character most efficiently? Being a casting director myself, I’m happy to share with you how my colleagues and I discover talents wherever talents are.
Casting directors have one task – to work with filmmakers in bringing their stories to life by finding the ideal people to portray the characters. After researching the filmmakers and reading the script, it’s easier to define and explain exactly how the project will be cast. As regards to films, the usual first step is digging deep into the script by defining its characters – the leads from the day players, role size, and schedule. Being an casting director NYC, it could be tempting to limit my search to talents around, but
Where’s the fun in that?
Day players and supporting cast are often discovered on location, where I will source talent by myself if
the location is nearby. If it isn’t however, I have also sourced talent from other cities in the USA as well as
in Canada, UK, Brazil, Mexico and Australia.
From personal findings, I’m then able to create a compilation of possibilities.
That is wishlists, thinkin goutside-the-box lists, and reality lists.
Next up is an appointment with the filmmakers to discuss the needs and wants. For the more major roles, I make available a list of names that are classed according to their availability, interest, and cost. From there, we make decisions on the ideal lead actors and have discussions on holding auditions for the other roles. This is where you usually get involved with the
To get the auditions underway, I share the character breakdown along with the payment terms with
managers and agents to request their submissions. More often than not, there are immediately tons of
emails as submissions, which I then carefully go through.
Actors whom we have an interest in will just move on to the audition process with me, while those we’re not certain of will have the opportunity to do a self submit audition and email it to myself or the team. Here, the actor is allowed to audition for the role while we share insights on the personality we seek. Assessing how dynamically an actor reacts to these insights is factored in along with if they’re even listening at all. Simultaneously, agents and
managers still have their submissions coming in.
Do not get carried away by the over-simplification of the audition process. The process can often take
from a few weeks to many months. After the assessments, the directors and the producers give callbacks
to impressive actors. For the creative team to have enough data to use, we upload all the sessions, which
were taped, to the website for instant access to authorized parties, as many people as that could consist
Once the audition processes have been carried out, we narrow down the search and make the final
callbacks or conduct some more tests for members of a shortlist. For the tests, we set up negotiations
regarding the actors’ deals; a process carried out by business affairs departments.
However, the casting director is sometimes in charge of the talks about the deals depending on how big of a deal it is, alongside the production manager who draws up the actors’ schedule and the requirements for making
the deal a successful one.
Past the testing stage, it’s now time to fit in actors in their fitting roles – a process which can be quite
complicated as with any process that requires about 20 people to agree. There’s not a single person with
the authority to make decisions on who gets cast, but rather a team of people with respective roles that
come together to create the best possible ensemble.
A casting director’s job is overseeing the selections of talents and ensuring that the ensemble that is finally decided on can work together in a fluid organic manner. Every project is unique in its ways but these are the steps and organs that they usually have in common. Take the words of a 28+ years experienced NYC casting director like myself.