Casting Director: The Ins and Outs
A casting director transforms a screenwriter’s vision into reality!
We, as an audience, are used to recognizing particular dialogues or behaviors with a certain fictional character. Whenever we are watching a movie, tv-show, or our favorite web series, it often feels like an actor was MADE for a certain character. But is it purely coincidental or was a hell-lot of effort put behind finding that one person?
This is where a casting director comes in!
Let’s look into some essential insights about how a casting director finds the ideal person for a role, what are the skills required, and most importantly, how to become a casting director!
A Casting Director’s Tasks:
Casting Directors are generally the first ones to be hired by a production company, studio, or network to find actors for any commercial entertainment project they’re working on. So, their work is majorly in the pre-production process.
Usually, when a movie is written, it has a lead character attached to it, or the role is written for a specific person, and the supporting characters are found by the casting directors. For instance, the character of Ross from F.R.I.E.N.D.S was written with David Schwimmer in the creators’ minds.
If in case a project does not have an actor assigned to it, a casting director cooperates with the directors and producers to understand the roles they require. They begin with reading the scripts and then create a breakdown to help understand the sort of person needed for the project. A casting budget is created with the help of the accountants. Then, if they think there are any ideal actors for the roles, they contact their agents. They confirm if they are available, willing to work on that budget or the genre that has been offered to them. After that, there are a lot of auditions, and the breakdown of roles is sent to agents and managers.
Following the long process of auditioning, making a list of potential actors for the role, and taking care of the casting advice note, the best prospects are handed over to the producers and directors to make the final judgment for hiring the actors.
Clearly not the best job for someone who does not have a huge network!
How to become a Casting Director:
There is no single way that can be pinpointed to help you become a Casting Director, although there are numerous ways to get into this field. But when do you think is the best time to begin?
The sooner, the better!
Although there isn’t a degree program particularized for becoming a casting director, it is preferable to major in a degree that is related to theatre, film history, or fine arts. You can begin your experience in this field by auditioning for school plays or joining the theatre department of your school or college.
The majority of the Casting Directors start their journeys through internships, assistantships, or apprenticeships. Learning through practical knowledge surpasses all other ways!
Start by looking for these opportunities in theatres and casting agencies. In case you are unable to find these opportunities, apply for work in another department of theatre or production that is directly associated with the casting projects. You can take acting classes as well! It will make you empathetic towards an actor, help you understand the outlook of other people involved in the show business, and educate you about the audition protocols, record-keeping, and network building.
The best way to enter this sector is by beginning as a casting assistant and then you can work your way up towards an associate casting director with time and experience. You can work with tons of professionals who can guide you through everything there is to know about a casting director. Other than that, it will add to one of the most important aspects required to be a casting director — building a network. The more people from the film industry, casting agencies, actors, producers, and directors you know, the better.
What are the skills required?
The skills that might help boost a career in becoming a casting director are many but not limited to just a number. You need to have a good eye for the smallest of things. These observational skills enhance rationality and decision making abilities, both of which are important. Being a part of a creative space, casting directors are required to understand and appreciate the entertainment landscape, to gather information and apply it creatively.
You will have to decide which face or attributes of an actor would suit the character and the ambience of the project, and be willing to take chances. To choose a diamond among the coal, casting directors should be able to have a keen eye to spot potential and talent together. You need to be great at making notes and lists about the pros and cons of choosing an actor.
Understanding an actor’s feelings and dispositions is another aspect that can help a casting director to be better at their job. Being in a fast paced industry like entertainment, you should be able to handle the situations on the spot and be diplomatic because you will deal with the conversations between the producers, directors and agents.
Here are some soft skills a casting director needs to master:
- Having to deal with people every hour of every day will need a person who gets along with them.
- You need to have good communication skills and an open mind.
- You will have to organize and keep track of everything, so good management skills are crucial.
- When things are happening all too fast, there are deadlines as well. You need to be able to work well under pressure and have a good memory to remember the detail oriented decisions and faces.
- Dealing with actors and people directly will require a personality that wins heart and is empathetic towards them.
Is it the right job for you?
Are you confused if this is the right job for you?
Well, be no more.
To become a casting director, you need to be a lover of talent. You will be surrounded by brimming talent and you will have to be able to love and appreciate the art form. It goes without saying but you need to watch lots and lots of TV and Films. You’ll have to remember everything about each actor and learn them and their specifications by heart.
You’ll never be bored because being a casting director is anything but a 9–5 job. You’ll have a constant change of workspace keeping it more exciting and new for you. Being in this field means you’ll gain continuous knowledge and if you love actors and collaborations, you are in the right place!