About Casting Directors
by Joshua Siegel
Casting Directors have to find the best possible cast out of thousands of actors while always keeping up on the newest talent. Will their next star be you?
A Casting Director is a person hired by the producers of a show to find talent (or "cast") for the show. These are the people who the agent will send photos and resumes to, and the actor will audition for. Casting Directors ("CDs" for short) have to find the best possible cast out of thousands of available actors, and must always keep up to date on the newest and hottest faces. Many CDs are former actors themselves and pride themselves on knowing just about every working actor in the business.
In a large film production with hundreds of roles to cast, a casting director may have to interview thousands of people before finding the right combination for the film. During the earlier stages of the audition process casting directors will often have their assistants interview the majority of the actor applicants.
Once the assistants have narrowed down the applicant pool, the casting director will begin conducting call-back auditions. Through the call-back auditions, the casting director is able to place all of the talent into the matching roles. Because the casting director is trying to realize the artistic impressions of the director and producer, there may be many series of call-back auditions.
Now that the casting director has narrowed down the field, the director and producer are called in to perform final auditions. It is at this point that the pre-selected talent or stars are brought back in for their follow-up auditions. The casting panel will usually have group interviews as well as solo interviews to judge the chemistry between all of the performers.
While it is possible to submit your photo and resume directly to a Casting Director if you know of a role being cast, they usually only seriously consider those submitted by an agent or actors that they already know. How do you get to know a CD? By auditioning for another role or arranging an "interview".
When they're not actively casting a project, Casting Directors will often interview actors that they've never met in order to get to general feeling of what types of roles these people might be good for. Unfortunately, a CD's time is at a premium and just about every actor and their cousin wants an interview, so you'll have to work hard to get an appointment.
If there's a particular Casting Director that you'd like to meet with (perhaps the one who casts your favorite show), it's a good idea to mail them your headshot and resume every few months or so. Also, you can send a photo postcard whenever you have an exciting announcement (such as a role in a film, show, or play). If a CD sees your face on a regular basis, eventually she'll probably want to talk to you.
Casting directors primarily fill all of the speaking roles, including the leads. Typically a casting director does not cast the remaining non-speaking parts or the background roles.
This brings us to the other half of the casting process called background casting. Background casting is the process of locating and hiring background talent also known as movie extras. Background casting is usually the responsibility of a second casting director who specializes in working with and casting movie extras.
Background casting directors will contact talent agencies and give them very simple details about who to bring to the production. Unlike speaking and non-speaking roles, auditions are rarely held for background actors. Today, many movie extras are found online within specialized internet casting databases and directories.