In the performing arts industry such as theatre, film, or television, a casting (or casting call) is a pre-production process for selecting a certain type of actor, dancer, singer, or extra for a particular role or part in a script, screenplay, or teleplay. This process is typically utilized for a motion picture, television program, documentary, music video, play, or television advertisement, etc. This involvement in a dramatic production, advertisement, and or industrial video is intended for an audience or studio audience.
Who Is a Casting Director?
Casting directors hold auditions to hire actors for creative projects, including TV, theater, or film productions. Casting directors work with talent agencies, playwrights, screenwriters, directors, and other creative leads to fill roles with performers who best represent the characters and style of a particular project. Through the casting process, casting directors sort through headshots and taped auditions, conduct casting calls, callbacks, and screen tests, and work with directors and producers on making hiring decisions.
These arts workers typically gain experience as interns, casting assistants, and casting associates before holding the job title of casting director.
4 Qualities of Successful Casting Directors
In addition to having an eye for talent, three essential qualities define a strong casting director:
- Memory skills: Casting directors must have a good memory to remember actors from various TV shows, theater productions, and films for specific projects. Casting directors may also keep up-to-date databases of actors organized by age, type, special skills, etc.
- Script analysis skills: Casting directors read through screenplays, play scripts, copy for commercials and various creative projects, and analyze the critical attributes of characters. Casting directors must be familiar with thoroughly reading a script to understand the writer’s intentions and the director’s vision.
- Interpersonal skills: Casting directors need to collaborate with directors, producers, and sometimes playwrights and screenwriters to find actors suitable for particular projects.
- Communication skills: Casting directors must have strong communication skills to keep in touch with all the actors, agents, and managers throughout the audition and hiring processes.
How to Become a Casting Director
There is no one career path in this field, but below are some steps that could take you from intern and casting assistant to casting associate and director:
- Immerse yourself in the theater and film industry. Taking classes at film school, working backstage on shows, and studying up major casting directors are all ways to better understand the entertainment world at large. The more you can learn about the many processes that lead to an artistic product, the better.
- Intern with talent agencies. Casting directors work with talent agents. Interning or working an entry-level position with talent agencies can be a way to get your foot in the door and network with casting professionals.
- Get a position in preproduction. The three main phases of creating a film include preproduction, production, and postproduction. Casting is part of the preproduction phase, which is all the writing, casting, and organizing work that leads up to a shoot. Even if you are not working directly in casting, a pre-production job may get you in closer contact with those who do.
- Reach out to casting assistants. Casting directors are more senior positions, and so casting assistants—people perhaps earlier in their career—might be more available to connect with. Write a personalized email expressing an interest in their work, citing projects they’ve worked on, and offering to take them out for a coffee to better understand their casting process. This is a networking opportunity, and if you impress the assistant, they may remember and hire you for their next project.
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