Let’s talk about Casting Directors!

Let’s talk about Casting Directors! (And let’s be clear about one thing: There is no such thing as a Casting “Agent”! We are Casting Directors!)

In the beginning, a secretary in someone’s office would be asked to call around to the various talent agents looking for them to send prospective talent in to audition for certain projects. Many studios had actors under contract so that created their talent pool. As the industry progressed and grew, the job became so demanding that a “Casting Director” position was designated.

We’ve come a long way since Breakdowns were faxed to talent agents who would then assemble packages of headshots and resumes of their talent being submitted, delivered to us by messenger services! We’ve come a long way since, at the end of the day, a tape had to have as many copies made as we had decision makers to receive them together with large packages of talent auditioned that day to be Fed Ex’ed to those people.

Life is certainly a lot easier than when we put together our daily schedules by hand and then had to call each participating agent with the list of actors we wanted to see, calltimes, hair/wardrobe and all the information they needed such as the project name, character being auditioned for, audition dates, callback dates and shoot dates!

Now, happily (most of the time), all of that is done electronically.

The CD is the liaison between production (regardless if it is a studio, network, ad agency, production company, etc.) and the Talent Agents (and Managers, in major markets). Our responsibility is to find the best possible talent to play the various roles in the project for which we are hired.

Our responsibilities include bidding on a project and being awarded the job; meeting with the director and other members of the production team to fully understand the script and rates; scheduling and conducting the auditions and callbacks; calling in a range of talent for each role whom we believe to be able to portray that character; notifying the agents by booking their talent, including dates, locations and all other pertinent details; negotiating the best deal possible between production and talent; preparation of Deal Memo’s for participating talent; and on UNION projects, performing a Station 12 (union clearance) and preparing Taft/Hartley Reports for talent not currently members in good standing of the union. If the union notifies us that a member is owing dues or has other problems, we have to solve those before that person starts work.

Unless talent is unrepresented, a CD will rarely call the talent direct. It is our responsibility to go through the agent to work out all the details involved in the hiring of that specific actor.

The CD’s “power” ends at who they invite to audition. And, always remember, an audition is an invitation! You’ve already beat out a ton of competition just to get the audition! We do not make the final decision as to who is hired!

For anyone wanting to be a Talent Agent or Casting Director, there is really only one way to learn: be an intern and learn the ropes. You’ll start on the very bottom rung of the ladder, but with drive, dedication, creativity and tenacity, you’ll move up that ladder.

On a side note, TALENT, beware of “big name” productions companies, supposed studios or modeling agencies coming through Texas with “open calls” or “talent searches”. Chances are really great that at the end of your audition, you’ll be told that with just a “…little more training”, you could really make it big… And about $4,000 later all you will have is an empty bank account.

Postings on various websites need to be read very carefully. If someone wants you to work for nothing or very little, with the usage “in perpetuity” (FOREVER), RUN, do not walk away. Some multi-million dollar companies are paying you a mere pittance. Don’t do it! Also be very careful of “spec” commercials! You could end up in a conflict and not even know it! Please do your due diligence before submitting yourself. If you are represented, your agent most likely will not submit you on these because of low rates and exorbitant usage.

By the way, I think the best casting directors are those of us who started as actors! I think we have a special empathy for you!

Thanks to all of you who have been kind enough to write about the monthly column. And, as always, thanks to Dan Eggleston for his approval in doing this and posting it to his various sites.

Let me know if you have any specific questions you’d like answered.

And remember, I am expressing my opinion only, not that of any other CD. Also, always keep in mind, that your agent has the final word on everything pertaining to your career, so listen to him/her!

March has certainly come in like a lion! HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY! HAPPY FIRST DAY OF SPRING, IF IT EVER ARRIVES! And enjoy all the wonderful things that SXSW has to offer!

Keep in mind that due to SXSW, the Network Austin Mixer will not meet in March. BUT, look out on Wednesday, April 8th and Wednesday, May 13th when we are presenting 2 panels of local Casting Directors! Hope to see you there! Be sure and visit www.networkaustinmixer.com for additional information.

Donise L. Hardy, CSA
© March 1, 2015

Posted by: Donise Hardy on March 2, 2015 @ 9:49 pm
Filed under: For What It's Worth

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