The Casting Director Is On Your Side

Once you’ve stepped into a casting director’s studio, realize that we are one hundred percent on your side. We truly want you to be exactly right for the role and we do everything possible to make you sparkle and shine. It doesn’t always seem that way to actors, however. To them, we may seem rude, evasive, or unhelpful. Try being us for a day.

Consider this scenario. I was working with another casting director on a major studio production. It was a difficult role requiring a very young actor, who could perform physical comedy. My colleague knew the exact actor and introduced him to the director immediately within the first pool we presented. No matter how persuasively she tried to convince him, the director said, “no way, keep looking.” Five hundred actors later, she slipped this very same actor into the mix again, and the director said, “Yes! That’s him! You see what happens if you keep looking.” This story epitomizes the frustration of being a casting director. We want dearly to book the role because then our search is over, but it can be a long road until we actually get approval.

Casting directors have to play the game. Film is the director’s medium. From a casting standpoint, directors can seem unreasonably petulant, demanding more and more choices before they make a decision — like kids in a candy shop wanting to taste each lollypop before they finally choose which one. Brilliant actors can be overlooked because of an obstreperous director who just wants to see more, more, more.

In some productions, the studio or the ubiquitous network wields the fist of power, more so than the director. In a TV series, the producer and the network have more say in casting than a director, who is usually hired free-lance on an episode by episode basis. There are times when a casting director is really supportive of an actor, but we may have to convince not only the director, but the producer, the executive producer, his wife, the studio casting director, the studio executive, and the network head honcho.

Even while we support actors, we are often helpless to influence these decisions. Be assured that when you walk through the door, we want you to be the one who the director will choose. Then we can make the deal and we have succeeded in our job. Every actor who enters the casting room is a potential gem for us to discover. I want them to be perfect for the role. Internalize this fact and use it as a springboard of confidence.

Don’t buy into the illusion that you are a supplicant standing at the gates of success in a casting director’s office. It’s true that some actors view castings as capital punishment, going drearily along as if to their own executions. Don’t internalize the system’s hierarchy or allow arrogant industry professionals to destroy your spirit. Believe in yourself and persevere.

About Nancy Bishop: Nancy is a CSA, Emmy-Award nominated casting director who works internationally from Europe. She has cast hundreds of actors in supporting roles in films such as Mission Impossible IV, The November Man, and Snowpiercer. She is also recognized as a coach and teaches a proven audition technique in master classes around the world.

(Excerpt from the book Auditioning for Film and TV by Nancy Bishop)


 

About Nancy Bishop: Nancy is a CSA, Emmy-Award nominated casting director who works internationally from Europe. She has cast hundreds of actors in supporting roles in films such as Mission Impossible IV, The November Man, and Snowpiercer. She is also recognized as a coach and teaches a proven audition technique in master classes around the world.

About Auditioning for Film and TV: This book is the updated and revised version of Nancy’s first book “Secrets from the Casting Couch.” (Bloomsbury.) A great read, endorsed by Donald Sutherland, Auditioning for Film and TV is a bible of knowledge for jobbing actors. Learn crucial strategies for marketing, auditioning, self-taping and using internet technology to forward your career.

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