What is a Casting Director?
Casting Directors work closely with the Director to find the right talent to realise the artistic vision for a feature. For this reason, Casting Directors are essential to any production. The creative vision of a film, TV show or theatre production could not be realised without them. In this article, we will be talking you through the key elements of the Casting Director’s role, and the skills you will need to become one.
The work of a Casting Director takes place before production. A good Casting Director should possess extensive and up-to-date knowledge of the current talent in the industry, being able to match every role with a suitable actor. However, this task is a lot easier said than done. In reality, a Casting Director may consider hundreds of actors and actresses before even seeing anyone face-t0-face.
Casting Directors conduct interviews and supervise auditions for each part, keeping in mind the candidates’ experience, reputation, box office appeal, and physical characteristics. They also work closely with the Production Accountant, being in charge of negotiating fees for all the actors cast.
While working patiently and relentlessly to fulfill the Director’s and Producer’s requests, Casting Directors need to be extremely knowledgeable about the industry’s current and upcoming talent and trends.
Employment and working hours
As a Casting Director, you will need to be able to work in high-pressure situations. You should also expect that sometimes you will have to work late into the evening, it’s a just a reality of the industry! Casting Directors tend to work on a freelance basis, thus building up a list of industry contacts is essential for steady employment.
The main skill required for this role is an extensive, deep and thorough understanding of the current scene in terms of acting talent. This in itself involves a good eye for recognising talent, knowledge of acting techniques and skills, a good memory and organisational skills.
In order to successfully deal both with a large number of actors and candidates, and with the Director and Producer, communication, negotiation, patience and initiative are also essential. Additionally, on the practical side, basic computer literacy (for research and data-keeping purposes) and knowledge of how to operate a camera are essential to keep track of interviews and auditions.
Award-winning Casting Director Ilene Starger offered some great advice on the skills a Casting Director needs when she visited Met Film School back in 2016. Just a couple of great pieces of advice included the importance of personalising a pitch when trying to recruit established actors and why not to discard actors who are ‘untrained’. You can get your hand on the rest of her top tips here.
How to become a Casting Director
You will usually start as an Assistant in a talent agency, or ideally, as a Casting Assistant with a good Director. This will give you the chance of working with and selecting actors, refining your eye and giving you the necessary experience to progress. As with many of the roles within this industry, it is a highly competitive landscape. So, dedication, enthusiasm will be key to succeeding in this career. In this industry, it truly is a case of who you know, so start building those industry contacts early on!
If you are looking to connect with other Casting Directors you may want to consider joining the Casting Director Guild. The Guild is a professional organisation that brings together Casting Directors across film, television, theatre, and commercials. You can find out more about the Guild here.
There is no formally required qualification for this role, but a degree in Arts, English, Film, Theatre, Communication or Media Studies might be helpful. Alternatively, earning a qualification as an actor can be beneficial to learn the basics of acting and the theoretical knowledge that will help you recognise talent at a glimpse.
Become a Casting Director
If you are ready for the next step in your career, why not take a look at the latest Casting Director vacancies on our jobs board? You can view our latest vacancies here.